a drop in the bucket


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drop in the bucket

A tiny amount, especially when compared to a much larger one. I'm glad Tony started repaying the money he borrowed from me, but the five dollars he gave me yesterday is just a drop in the bucket compared to what he still owes.
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drop in the bucket

 and a drop in the ocean
Fig. an in significant contribution toward solving a large problem. Jane: We need to stop spending so much. Alan: OK. I'll buy a cheaper brand of toothpaste. Jane: But that's just a drop in the bucket. Many companies donated food and medicine to help the survivors of the earthquake, but it was just a drop in the ocean of what was needed.
See also: bucket, drop

drop in the bucket

A very small quantity, especially one that is too small. For example, These contributions are just a drop in the bucket; the new church wing will cost thousands more . John Wycliffe's followers used this seemingly modern phrase in their translation of the Bible (1382), and it also appears in the 1611 King James version (Isaiah 40:15): "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance."
See also: bucket, drop

a drop in the bucket

An insufficient or inconsequential amount in comparison with what is required.
See also: bucket, drop

drop in the bucket

A small, inadequate quantity.
See also: bucket, drop