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a drop in the bucket American English

Meaning: If an amount is a drop in the bucket, it's a very small portion of the amount that's needed.

For example:

  • Our government's sending a thousand tons of food, but that's just a drop in the bucket compared to what's needed.

  • I know twenty dollars is just a drop in the bucket, but if everyone gave that much it'd make a big difference.

Note: The British and Australian equivalent is "a drop in the ocean".

Variety: This idiom is typically used in American English but may be used in other varieties of English too.

Quick Quiz:

If a donation to help people in need is a drop in the bucket, it is
  1. nearly enough to solve the problem
  2. not much, but better than nothing
  3. not enough to make a difference

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