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The meaning and origin of the expression: A drop in the bucket

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A drop in the bucket

Meaning

A very small proportion of the whole.

Origin

From the Bible, Isaiah 40:15 (King James Version):

"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."

'A drop in the bucket' is the predecessor of 'a drop in the ocean', which means the same thing, and is first found in a piece from The Edinburgh Weekly Journal, July 1802:

"The votes for the appointment of Bonaparte to be Chief Consul for life are like a drop in the ocean compared with the aggregate of the population of France."