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a drop in the ocean British English

Meaning: If an amount is a drop in the ocean, 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 ocean compared to what's needed.

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

Note: The U.S. equivalent is "a drop in the bucket".

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

Quick Quiz:

If something is described as being a drop in the ocean, it is
  1. a small part of what's needed
  2. a huge part of what's needed
  3. all that's needed

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