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in•sig•nif•i•cance(ˌɪn sɪgˈnɪf ɪ kəns)
(See also WORTHLESSNESS.)
anise and cumin Insignificant matters, petty concerns. The term is usually found within a context implying that one ought to be about more important work or focus his attention on larger concerns. The origin of the phrase lies in Jesus’ reproach to the Scribes and Pharisees:
Ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Matthew 23:23)
Anise and cumin are aromatic herbs often used in both cookery and medicine.
a drop in the bucket An absurdly small quantity in relation to the whole; a contribution so negligible or insignificant that it makes no appreciable difference; also a drop in the ocean. The expression appears in the following passage from the King James version of the Bible:
Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance. (Isaiah 40:15)
A drop in the ocean was apparently coined by analogy. It dates from the early 1700s.
fly in amber An unimportant person or incident remembered only through association with a person or matter of significance. The origin of this phrase is credited to certain extinct pine trees that produced a resin called amber which, while flowing down the trees, trapped and preserved small insects, thus fossilizing organisms of virtually no scientific interest.
Full-fledged specimens of your order, preserved for all time in the imperishable amber of his genius. (C. Cowden Clarke, Shakespeare-characters, 1863)
Mickey Mouse Cheap or inferior; small, insignificant, worthless; petty, trivial; simple, easy, childish. The allusion is to the cartoon character created by Walt Disney in 1928. Because this character is internationally famous, Mickey Mouse has been applied figuratively in innumerable and widely varied contexts. The connotation of cheapness and inferiority probably originated in the mid-1930s when the Ingersoll Watch Company marketed a popular wristwatch, with Mickey Mouse on its face and his arms serving as pointers or hands, which sold for $2. The watch was not made well enough to last long, hence the allusion to flimsiness and poor quality.
One reason for the AFL’s reputation as a Mickey Mouse league is that it gave new life to NFL rejects. (J. Mosedale, Football, 1972) At Michigan State [University] … a “Mickey Mouse course” means a “snap course.” (Maurice Crane, “Vox Box,” in American Speech, October, 1958)
See also Mickey Mouse around, EVASIVENESS.
no great shakes Unimportant or unimpressive; not exceptional or extraordinary; common, dull, boring. There are several suggested derivations of this expression: a low roll on a shake of the dice, a negative appraisal of someone’s character made on the basis of a weak handshake, or a negligible yield resulting from shaking a barren walnut tree.
Alternate meanings of shake are also cited: ‘reputation,’ ‘a shingle from the roof of a shanty,’ or ‘plant stubble left after harvesting.’ One source alludes to the Arabic shakhs ‘man.’ At any rate, no great shakes has long implied that a person or thing is common, unimportant, or of no particular merit or ability.
[He] said that a piece of sculpture there was “nullae magnae quessationes” [‘of no great shakes’] and the others laughed heartily. (Lord Henry Broughton, Recollections, 1816)
one-horse town An extremely small, insignificant town. A farmer whose plow was pulled by one horse instead of two was considered small-time and of limited resources. Similarly, a one-horse town refers to a small, often rural community which could presumably survive with only one horse. The phrase maintains common usage in the United States despite the fact that horses are no longer the principal means of transportation.
In this “one-horse” town, … as our New Orleans neighbors designate it. (Knickerbocker Magazine, 1855)
peanut gallery A source of unimportant or insignificant criticism; in a theater, the section of seats farthest removed from the stage. In many theaters, peanuts and popcorn were sold only to the people in the least expensive seats, usually those in the rear of the balcony, hence the nickname peanut gallery. Since these seats are traditionally bought by those of meager means and, by stereotypic implication, those with a minimal appreciation of the arts, comments or criticisms from people in the peanut gallery carried little, if any, weight, thus the expression’s more figurative meaning.
pebble on the beach An insignificant or unimportant person, especially one who was once prominent; a face in the crowd, a fish in the sea. This expression is one of many that minimize the importance of someone by virtue of the fact that he is just one of a multitude. It usually follows phrases such as “There’s more than one …” and “You aren’t the only …,” and is most commonly used in situations involving a jilted sweetheart.
penny-ante Insignificant or unimportant; strictly small-time; involving a trifling or paltry amount of money. Originally, penny ante was a poker game in which the ante or limit was one penny. Though this literal meaning persists, the term is used figuratively as well.
Compared to the man Bilbo, 63-year-old John Rankin is strictly penny ante and colorless. (Negro Digest, August, 1946)
Podunk Any hick town; the boondocks, the sticks; the middle of nowhere. This name, of Indian origin, may refer either to the Podunk near Hartford, Connecticut, or to that near Worcester, Massachusetts. But how either gained the notoriety necessary to make it representative of all such insignificant, out-of-the-way towns is unknown.
He might just as well have been John Smith of Podunk Centre. (Harper’s Weekly, September, 1901)
small potatoes An inconsequential, trivial person; an irrelevant or unimportant concept or notion; a small amount of money. This familiar saying is evidently derived from the shortlived satiation of one who has eaten a small potato. Although the expression retains its human application, small potatoes more often describes an insignificant amount of money, especially when such a pittance is compared with one’s projected future earnings or with a much greater cash sum.
The $7 billion was of course pretty “small potatoes” compared to the vast inflationary borrowings of the federal government. (Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science, May, 1948)
|Noun||1.||insignificance - the quality of having little or no significance|
unimportance - the quality of not being important or worthy of note
meaninglessness - the quality of having no value or significance; "he resented the meaninglessness of the tasks they assigned him"
inconsequence - having no important effects or influence
significance - the quality of being significant; "do not underestimate the significance of nuclear power"