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Big fish in a small pond

  • The idiom a big fish in a small pond has been in use since the 1880s. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the meaning of the expression a big fish in a small pond, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    A big fish in a small pond is someone who is important within his limited sphere, but not in the larger world. For instance, a city councilman would be an important person within that particular city where he may yield power, but would not be important in a neighboring city or in the country as a whole. The idiom a big fish in a small pond may be considered an aphorism, as for most people, it is better to have a small sphere of influence than no sphere of influence at all. Occasionally, the phrase a small fish in a big pond is used to mean someone who is unimportant and powerless. The idiom a big fish in a small pond first appeared in the United States in the 1880s, though it may have been in use long before this time.

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    Examples

    In that transition, the stock exchange went from being a big fish in a small pond to being a tiny player among giant developed market exchanges. (The Jerusalem Post)

    From his days playing ball an a lightly recruited high-schooler in Oakland to his time as a big fish in a small pond at Weber State through his years with the small-market Portland Trail Blazers, Lillard has had the proverbial chip on his shoulder, always itching to prove doubters wrong. (The Spokesman-Review)


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