A Drop in the Bucket (Origin)

What Is the Origin of the Saying "A Drop in the Bucket"?

The term "a drop in the bucket" means a small part of something big or whole. It comes from the Bible, specifically Isaiah 40:15:

Book of Isaiah: Chapter 40: Verse 15

"Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing."
Even though "a drop in the bucket" hales to the original saying, "a drop in the ocean" is far more common these days. Of note, "a drop in the ocean" is an example of assonance (repeated vowel sounds), which makes it more rhythmic to the ear. This almost certainly contributes to its popularity compared to "a drop in the bucket."
A Drop in the Bucket (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • Donating a small amount of money is a drop in the bucket when it comes to solving the issue of poverty.
  • Compared to the overall budget, the allocated funds for the project were a drop in the bucket.
  • Her efforts to recycle were commendable, but it was just a drop in the bucket when considering the magnitude of environmental challenges.
  • They aimed to make a significant impact, but their accomplishments were a drop in the bucket compared to the scale of the problem.
  • Given the size of the company, the monetary penalty they received was a drop in the bucket and did not significantly affect their finances.

Previous and Next Sayings

More Proverbs, Sayings, and Idioms

author logo

This page was written by Craig Shrives.