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a drop in the ocean

This page is about the idiom a drop in the ocean

British English


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.

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


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

a. a small part of what's needed

b. a huge part of what's needed

c. all that's needed

Idiom of the Day

Contributor: Matt Errey