Posted by: Dutch | November 4, 2009

Drop in the bucket

Meaning

A very small proportion of the whole.

Origin

From the Bible, Isaiah 40:15 (King James Version):

“Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.”

‘A drop in the bucket’ is the predecessor of ‘a drop in the ocean’, which means the same thing. This is first found in a piece from The Edinburgh Weekly Journal, July 1802:

“The votes for the appointment of Bonaparte to be Chief Consul for life are like a drop in the ocean compared with the aggregate of the population of France.”

– Sincerest thanks to Gary Martin of The Phrase Finder

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