Small potatoes

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Small potatoes is an idiom that has been in use for quite some time. We will examine the meaning of the expression small potatoes, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The term small potatoes refers to someone or something that is insignificant or unimportant, someone or something that is petty or inconsequential. Synonyms for small potatoes that may be found in a thesaurus are trivial, minor, worthless. The term small potatoes came into use in America in the early 1800s, though a similar phrase may be found in a letter written by Taylor Coleridge, “little potatoes”, which Coleridge defined as “…no great things, a compost of nullity and dullity.” Today, the term small potatoes is often used in a dismissive way when discussing a very small business or a person who believes that he is more important than he is. Small potatoes may be considered a insult. Note that the plural of potato is potatoes, spelled with an added es.


“In the end, obstruction could be small potatoes compared to the possibility of a foreign adversary having leverage over the president of the United States.” (The Hill)

Having endured all this by the time he got to high school, the challenges of being an undersized jumper seemed like small potatoes. (The West Fargo Pioneer)

“It really shows this 2018 bill is small potatoes in regard to where we need to be,” said Natalie Veldhouse, Iowa Policy Project research associate. (Post Bulletin)

The article ends with Mr. Hurley quoted as saying, “This is small potatoes.” (Adirondack Daily Enterprise)