: a small portion : a limited quantity
Did You Know?
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 (which, logically enough, refers to a small "measure" of something) 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. 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.
If you had possessed a modicum of sense, you would have paused to think before accepting such a dangerous job.
"If that piece isn't covered with a swath of dressing, a modicum of blue cheese and a crumble of bacon, maneuver your knife to make that happen." - David Hagedorn, The National Post, 11 Aug. 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
What synonym of modicum begins with "s" and can also refer to the dimensions of timber or to a small piece of lumber? The answer is …
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP