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A very small or limited amount to choose from, especially after others have taken from what was originally available. By the time I got to the sale, it was pretty slim pickings left on the racks. A: "Is there any food left from the party?" B: "Just some slim pickings."
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
A small amount left after others have taken a share. For example, After each of the children took what they wanted of Mother's things, it was slim pickings for the rest of the family . This expression alludes to animals devouring a carcass. [Early 1600s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Little left to profit from; a small reward, scarcely worth the effort. This term, alluding to animals devouring a carcass of prey or carrion, has been around since at least the seventeenth century, and the idea is much older yet. John Milton used it in Smectymnus (1642): “The Vulturs had then but small pickings.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer