mo·di·cum | \ˈmä-di-kəm also ˈmō- \

Definition of modicum 

: a small portion : a limited quantity had only a modicum of mathematical skills

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The Origins of Modicum Can Be Found in the Bathroom

What does "modicum" have to do with a toilet? It just so happens that "modicum" shares the same Latin parent as "commode," which is a synonym of "toilet." "Modicum" and "commode" ultimately derive from the Latin noun modus, which means "measure." "Modicum" has been a part of the English language since the 15th century. It descends from the Latin modicus ("moderate"), which is itself a descendant of "modus." (Logically enough, "modicum" refers to a small "measure" of something.) "Modus" really measures up as a Latin root - it also gave us "mode" (originally a kind of musical "measure"), "modal," "model," "modern," "modify," and "modulate." More distant relatives include "mete," "moderate," and "modest."

Examples of modicum in a Sentence

only a modicum of skill is necessary to put the kit together

Recent Examples on the Web

America has been the world’s policeman, the guarantor of a modicum of restraint from the world’s despots and fanatics. Tony Abbott, WSJ, "An Ally Sizes Up Donald Trump," 13 July 2018 There are nine cornerbacks on the roster, but other than Peterson, only a couple have even a modicum of starting experience. Kent Somers, USA TODAY, "Cardinals training camp questions: Can Sam Bradford stay healthy, hold down starting job?," 27 June 2018 There are 10 cornerbacks on the roster, but other than Peterson, only a couple have even a modicum of starting experience. Kent Somers, azcentral, "Arizona Cardinals' big questions loom as minicamps and OTAs continue," 9 May 2018 DD214 Chronicle has a modicum of advertisers from area colleges, funeral homes, realtors and attorneys. Brian Albrecht,, "Veterans' stories don't end with military discharge in the DD214 Chronicle (photos,video)," 2 May 2018 Each had a modicum of trust that the other would act in a reasonably predictable way. Andrew Higgins, New York Times, "It’s No Cold War, but Relations With Russia Turn Volatile," 26 Mar. 2018 JUICE Wrld is the suburban Chicago teen born Jared Higgins who specializes in feeling sorry for himself in song, thankfully with a modicum of self- awareness. Dan Deluca,, "Drake, Ariana Grande, Cardi B and the other songs to create the best Summer music playlist," 5 July 2018 Many Kasell portrayals were highly dubious, but for anyone paying a modicum of attention to the news, the answers were fairly obvious. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Carl Kasell, NPR Newsman Who Discovered Laughs, Dies at 84," 17 Apr. 2018 It’s not written down anywhere, but some modicum of decorum is expected with that pass. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Immigration fight is no picnic: Reps brawl, Dems jeer and cops search for Trump-accosting intern," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'modicum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of modicum

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for modicum

Middle English, from Latin, neuter of modicus moderate, from modus measure

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Statistics for modicum

Last Updated

26 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for modicum

The first known use of modicum was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of modicum

: a small amount

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More from Merriam-Webster on modicum

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Spanish Central: Translation of modicum

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Comments on modicum

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one that holds something together

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