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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.
See also: bucket, drop

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.
See also: drop, ocean

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

oceans of someone or something

 and an ocean of someone or something
a very large amount of something. The naughty student was in oceans of trouble. After a week of vacation, there was an ocean of work to do.
See also: ocean, of

a drop in the ocean

  (British, American & Australian) also a drop in the bucket (American)
a very small amount in comparison to the amount that is needed A hundred thousand may seem a lot but it's a drop in the ocean compared to the millions that need to be spent.
See also: drop, ocean

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

boil the ocean

tv. to waste one’s time attempting to do the impossible. (see also plowing water.) You’re wasting my time. You might as well be boiling the ocean.
See also: boil, ocean

drop in the bucket

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

spit in the ocean

An inconsequential amount. The image is a single expelled moist mouthful being nothing compared to the entirely watery content of the Atlantic or Pacific. A similar phrase is “a drop in the bucket.”
See also: ocean, spit
References in classic literature ?
334-345) And Tethys bare to Ocean eddying rivers, Nilus, and Alpheus, and deep-swirling Eridanus, Strymon, and Meander, and the fair stream of Ister, and Phasis, and Rhesus, and the silver eddies of Achelous, Nessus, and Rhodius, Haliacmon, and Heptaporus, Granicus, and Aesepus, and holy Simois, and Peneus, and Hermus, and Caicus fair stream, and great Sangarius, Ladon, Parthenius, Euenus, Ardescus, and divine Scamander.
These are the eldest daughters that sprang from Ocean and Tethys; but there are many besides.
383-403) And Styx the daughter of Ocean was joined to Pallas and bare Zelus (Emulation) and trim-ankled Nike (Victory) in the house.
For as many as were born of Earth and Ocean amongst all these she has her due portion.
507-543) Now Iapetus took to wife the neat-ankled mad Clymene, daughter of Ocean, and went up with her into one bed.
When I saw that we soon would touch, I ordered the ship brought around broadside to the wind, and there we hovered a moment until a huge wave reached up and seized us upon its crest, and then I gave the order that suddenly reversed the screening force, and let us into the ocean.
Even prior to this, transoceanic commerce had practically ceased, owing to the perils and hazards of the mine-strewn waters of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The navy called to me, as did the free, wide, unpeopled spaces of the mighty oceans.
The descent began at twenty-five minutes past one at night, and the chamber, drawn under by the reservoirs full of water, disappeared from the surface of the ocean.
By the light of their lamps, furnished with powerful reflectors, they could see the dark beds of the ocean for a considerable extent of view, but the projectile was nowhere to be seen.
What seemed easy at San Francisco, seemed here in the wide ocean almost impossible.
The corvette advanced some minutes to westward, and the apparatus, provided with air, bore the same explorers to the depths of the ocean.
I saw the spot where a cluster of fine trees once waved their branches on the shores of the Atlantic, when that ocean (now driven back
The ocean which received such thick masses, must have been profoundly deep; but again the subterranean forces exerted themselves, and I now beheld the bed of that ocean, forming a chain of mountains more than seven thousand feet in height.
A poor old father lost his only son some time ago and today he built a tiny boat for himself in order to go in search of him across the ocean.