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a drop in the bucket

This page is about the idiom a drop in the bucket

American English


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.

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


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

a. nearly enough to solve the problem

b. not much, but better than nothing

c. not enough to make a difference

Idiom of the Day

Contributor: Matt Errey