a drop in the ocean
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia.
drop in the ocean
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 ocean compared to what he still owes.
a drop in the oceanBRITISH or
a drop in the bucketAMERICAN
COMMON If something, especially an amount of money, is a drop in the ocean, it is very small in comparison with the amount which is needed or expected. The size of the grants have been attacked by welfare groups as merely a drop in the ocean. The amount of mercury would be minuscule, a drop in the bucket compared to natural sources such as bacteria in soils. Note: This expression may come from a line in the Bible: `Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance.' (Isaiah 40:15)