A Drop in the Bucket (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

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)

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