a drop in the ocean

noun phrase

British, informal
: an amount that is so small that it does not make an important difference or have much effect
They need to raise thousands of pounds for this project, so our 20-pound donation is just a drop in the ocean.

Examples of a drop in the ocean in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And while the number of apprenticeship opportunities in America is growing—and is predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to continue to do so—the 600,000 individuals currently on such schemes are a drop in the ocean compared to millions of college undergraduates. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 4 Mar. 2024 While there’s certainly optimism to be gleaned in Murray’s projection of 16 million paying VOD subscribers in Africa by 2029 — up from just 8 million at the end of last year — that figure represents just a drop in the ocean on a continent of more than 1.2 billion. Christopher Vourlias, Variety, 4 Mar. 2024 Nippon Steel’s purchase of U.S. Steel is a drop in the ocean of foreign investment in the United States. The Editors, National Review, 22 Dec. 2023 Meanwhile, Google Music looks like a drop in the ocean compared with the company’s mammoth advertising business. Ryan Hogg, Fortune Europe, 6 Dec. 2023 But aid groups say supplies entering by truck are still a drop in the ocean compared to the need. Sarah Dadouch, Washington Post, 19 Nov. 2023 At the same time, budgets in La Liga Femenina continue to vary wildly: Though Barcelona has invested heavily in its women’s team — though even that, by the standards of the men, is a drop in the ocean — few of its rivals have been prepared to do the same. Rory Smith, New York Times, 19 Aug. 2023 The $4 million New Zealand’s government is spending on Love Better is a drop in the ocean set against the harm that may be avoided if even a few young people are left with a sense of positive agency over their actions and responses. Holly Thomas, CNN, 29 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'a drop in the ocean.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Dictionary Entries Near a drop in the ocean

Cite this Entry

“A drop in the ocean.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/a%20drop%20in%20the%20ocean. Accessed 12 Jun. 2024.

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