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The quality or state of being insignificant.


(ˌɪn sɪgˈnɪf ɪ kəns)

the quality or condition of being insignificant; lack of importance or consequence.




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)

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.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"



تَفاهَه، عَدَم أهَميَّه


[ˌɪnsɪgˈnɪfɪkəns] Ninsignificancia f
see also pale B2


[ˌɪnsɪgˈnɪfɪkəns] ninsignifiance f
see also pale


nBedeutungslosigkeit f, → Belanglosigkeit f; (of wound, alteration)Geringfügigkeit f; (of person, appearance)Unscheinbarkeit f


[ˌɪnsɪgˈnɪfɪkəns] nscarsa importanza


(insigˈnifikənt) adjective
of little value or importance; not significant. They paid me an insignificant sum of money; an insignificant person.
ˌinsigˈnificance noun
References in classic literature ?
In the darkness under the roof of the grand-stand, George Willard sat beside Helen White and felt very keenly his own insignificance in the scheme of exis- tence.
Thus far the knowledge of Heyward assisted him in the explanation; and as he now knew that the interruption was caused by the unlooked-for return of a successful war-party, every disagreeable sensation was quieted in inward congratulation, for the opportune relief and insignificance it conferred on himself.
Behind and above where she stood the towering woods seemed to be waiting with opened ranks to absorb her with the little cabin she had quitted, dwarfed into insignificance in the vast prospect; but nowhere was there another sign or indication of human life and habitation.
It is redeemed from insignificance only by the contraction of her eyebrows into a near-sighted scowl.
All other topics sank into insignificance and passed out of men's thoughts and interest.
He was giving orders for a toothpick-case for himself, and till its size, shape, and ornaments were determined, all of which, after examining and debating for a quarter of an hour over every toothpick-case in the shop, were finally arranged by his own inventive fancy, he had no leisure to bestow any other attention on the two ladies, than what was comprised in three or four very broad stares; a kind of notice which served to imprint on Elinor the remembrance of a person and face, of strong, natural, sterling insignificance, though adorned in the first style of fashion.
To shorten an enumeration of particulars which can afford neither pleasure nor instruction, it may in general be demanded, what indication is there of national disorder, poverty, and insignificance that could befall a community so peculiarly blessed with natural advantages as we are, which does not form a part of the dark catalogue of our public misfortunes?
Let England have its navigation and fleet -- let Scotland have its navigation and fleet -- let Wales have its navigation and fleet -- let Ireland have its navigation and fleet -- let those four of the constituent parts of the British empire be be under four independent governments, and it is easy to perceive how soon they would each dwindle into comparative insignificance.
I knew, of course, that they must despise me now for my lack of success in the service, and for my having let myself sink so low, going about badly dressed and so on--which seemed to them a sign of my incapacity and insignificance.
Little knowest thou thine own insignificance in this great world
To those who live in the narrow circle of human interests and human feelings, there ever exists, unheeded, almost unnoticed, before their very eyes, the most humbling proofs of their own comparative insignificance in the scale of creation, which, in the midst of their admitted mastery over the earth and all it contains, it would be well for them to consider, if they would obtain just views of what they are and what they were intended to be.
once placed in this conspicuous position, was seen to have had one arm only, and one eye--in these points resembling the heroic Nelson--while a certain pallid insignificance of feature confirmed the relationship between himself and his grand- nephew.