A drop in the bucket

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A drop in the bucket is an idiom that has been in use for hundreds of years. We will examine the meaning of the idiom a drop in the bucket, where it comes from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A drop in the bucket is a small amount, an insignificant amount or an unimportant amount. The expression a drop in the bucket is sometimes used when someone is overwhelmed by the amount of effort one must put into a situation, or the amount of work one must do to complete a task. Synonyms for the idiom a drop in the bucket that may be found in a thesaurus are pittance, smidgen, trace. The phrase a drop in the bucket has been in use since the 1300s, and is derived from a passage in the Bible found in Isaiah 40:15: “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance…”


The group also has managed to get a small amount of aid inside the country, which Graham called “a drop in the bucket” compared to what is needed. (Reuters)

That $20 billion may seem like a small drop in the bucket of a proposed fiscal 2020 budget that will be just under $5 trillion, but when close to one-third of federal spending consists of programs with budgets of $25 billion or less, the dollars add up quickly. (The Washington Examiner)

“We kind of feel like we’re a small part — a drop in the bucket — but each drop does make a difference,” she said. (The Daily Nonpareil)

Enjoyed reading about this idiom? Check out some others we covered:

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