a small amount


smidgen = klitzekleines bisschen, Quäntchen, kleine Menge



“Altasia shipped $634bn in merchandise to America in the 12 months to September 2022, a SMIDGEN more than China’s $614bn.”

The Economist - Daily Chart (3rd March 2023)

"Both Fortescue and BP envision themselves … have announced plans to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in projects across dozens of countries beyond Australia, … Those would still account for only a SMIDGEN of the hundreds of millions of tons the I.E.A. and others say would be needed to create a market in green hydrogen.”

Max Bearak — The New York Times (11th March 2023)

Did you

smidgen (also smidge, smidgeon, smidget, smidgin)

- a very small amount

The Cambridge Dictionary


The word "smidgen" is an informal term used to refer to a small amount or a tiny bit of something. It's often used in casual conversation to indicate a small, barely noticeable quantity. The term is commonly used in the United States and is derived from Scottish and Northern English dialects.

Etymologically, "smidgen" is believed to have originated from the Scots Gaelic word "smitch" or "smidgen," which means "a very small piece" or "a fragment." This word likely came into English through Scottish and Northern English dialects. Over time, it evolved to its current form, "smidgen," and became a part of colloquial English vocabulary.

The Art of Intuitive Cooking!

Terms which are casually mentioned in recipes can be quite intimidating. While many of us intuitively understand the meaning of "a minor quantity", the exact size is rather mysterious.

Historically, recipes were written in everyday language rather than strict measurements, resulting in recipes with vague descriptors. Here's a charming 18th century example from Martha Lloyd’s Household Book — "Fricassee Turnips: Cut your Turnips in dice, when boiled and put a little cream to them, Thickened with flour & add a little lump of sugar to your taste”.

As recipe documentation modernized (and scales grew more accurate), precise units have become more standardized. Notwithstanding, traditional descriptors like “smidgen,” “pinch,” and “dash” persist, offering the chef flexibility in adjusting flavours.

Curiously, many diminutive terms commence with “sm”— including “small” itself, and others like “smithereen”, “smattering”, and “smudge”. "Pinch" is self-explanatory — it mirrors the quantity held between a thumb and forefinger — it perfectly represents the tactile act of sprinkling a tiny seasoning amount. "Dash" and "drop" typically refer to fluids, evoking images of a single liquid droplet or the vigour of a swift bottle shake resulting in a pronounced dash.

"Dollop" (my personal favourite) typically relates to thick substances, like cream or yogurt. The term is delightfully evocative, bringing to mind the sensation of a thick cream dollop plopping into the mix!


atom, bantam, bead, bit, bitty, blob, crumb, dab, dabble, dash, delicate bit, dollop, dot, drop, droplet, flake, flyspeck, fraction, fragment, gobbet, grain, granule, grout, hint, iota, itsy-bitsy, itty-bitty, jot, lick, mite, modicum, morsel, mote, nibble, nip, nuance, nubbin, pinch, scintilla, shred, slither, smackerel, small amount, smatch, smattering, smear, SMIDGEN, smithereen, smudge, snip, snippet, speck, spot, sprinkling, spritz, squirt, suggestion, taste, thimbleful, tiddy bit, tiddly-bit, tidbit, tinge, touch, trace, vanishing, wee bit, whit, wisp

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation today, say something like:

“If you love cooking, or love someone who loves cooking, check out ‘How Much Is a SMIDGEN? The history of measuring a dollop or a pinch’ by Claire Cock-Starkey - it would make a perfect birthday present!”

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