From Late Middle English modicum, borrowed from Latin modicum (“a little, a small amount”), a noun use of the neuter form of modicus (“moderate; restrained, temperate; reasonable”) + -cum (suffix forming neuter nouns). Modicus is derived from modus (“a measure; a bound, limit”) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *med- (“to measure”)) + -icus (suffix meaning ‘of or pertaining to’ forming adjectives).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈmɒdɪkəm/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈmɑdɪkəm/, /-də-/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Hyphenation: mod‧i‧cum
- A modest, small, or trifling amount.
- Synonyms: iota, jot, tittle; see also Thesaurus:modicum
- Antonyms: see Thesaurus:lot
- Unable to garner even a modicum of support for his plan, he conceded to follow the others.
- c. 1602, William Shakespeare, The Famous Historie of Troylus and Cresseid. […] (First Quarto), London: […] G[eorge] Eld for R[ichard] Bonian and H[enry] Walley, […], published 1609, OCLC 951696502, [Act II, scene i]:
- Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he vtters, his euaſions haue ears thus long. I haue bobed his braine more then he has beate my bones.
- 1607, T[homas] W[alkington], “That a Diet is to bee Obserued of Eueryone”, in The Optick Glasse of Hvmors. Or The Touchstone of a Golden Temperature, or the Philosophers Stone to Make a Golden Temper. […], London: […] Iohn Windet for Martin Clerke, […], OCLC 22754401, page 25:
- He [Clement of Alexandria] ſhewes alſo that it is better (if a man do drinke) to take wine at ſupper than at dinner, yet a little modicum [...].
- 1708 August 8–10, “Q. I desire your Opinions, whether you think it agreeable to the Laws of Humanity to kill a Man, that Assaults us on the High Way.”, in [Aaron Hill and Marshall Smith], editors, The British Apollo, or, Curious Amusements for the Ingenious. […], volume I, number 49, London: […] J. Mayo, […], OCLC 1179448054, column 1:
- For as a Poor Man has as Juſt a Title to the ſmall Modicum he enjoys, as has the Rich Man to his large Poſſeſſions; ſo the Travailer has as good a Title to his Money, as has the Robber to his Life.
- 1836, [Thomas Carlyle], “Memoir of Burns”, in “The Ettrick Shepherd” [pseudonym; James Hogg] and William Motherwell, editors, The Works of Robert Burns, volume V, Glasgow; Edinburgh: Archibald Fullarton, and Co. […], OCLC 1015444136, chapter XII (General Character of Burns), page 227:
- By the great, also, he [Robert Burns] was treated in the customary fashion, entertained at their tables, and dismissed. Certain modica of pudding and praise are from time to time gladly exchanged for the fascination of his presence, which exchange once effected, the bargain is finished, and each party goes off his several way.
- 1851 August, “Infirmities of Media”, in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, volume III, number 15, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, […], OCLC 924884025, page 327, column 1:
- And time would fail us to enumerate the hundreds of lesser spirits who have employed their small modica of light, which they mistook for genius, as lamps allowing them to see their way more clearly down to the chambers of death.
- 1876 May – 1877 July, Anthony Trollope, “Poor Caneback”, in The American Senator […], volume I, London: Chapman and Hall, […], published 1877, OCLC 6753090, page 242:
- There he lay quiet and composed, sipping small modicums of brandy and water, and taking his outlook into such transtygian world as he had fashioned for himself in his dull imagination.
- 1947 January 29, Theodore R. Iserman, witness, “Statement of Theodore R. Iserman, Attorney at Law, New York, N.Y.”, in Labor Relations Program: Hearings before the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, United States Senate, Eightieth Congress, First Session, on S. 55 and S.J. Res. 22 […], part 1, Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, OCLC 7080014, page 131:
- We propose, and it is in Senator [Joseph Hurst] Ball's bill, I believe, that this [National Labor Relations] Board has got to stop deciding its cases on scintillas of evidence and imponderables and modicums and inferences, and stick to the facts.
- 2011, Thomas Thwaites, “Deconstruction”, in Sara Bader, editor, The Toaster Project: Or A Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electrical Appliance from Scratch, New York, N.Y.: Princeton Architectural Press, →ISBN, page 34:
- Perhaps the majority of human endeavour can be reduced to the pursuit of additional modicums of comfort—like being slightly less tired, being slightly less bored, or just an evenly crispy piece of toast—small trifles, to which we quickly become accustomed.
From modicus (“moderate, middling”)
- (Classical) IPA(key): /ˈmo.di.kum/, [ˈmɔd̪ɪkʊ̃ˑ]
- (Ecclesiastical) IPA(key): /ˈmo.di.kum/, [ˈmɔːd̪ikum]
Second-declension noun (neuter).
- English: modicum
- nominative neuter singular of
- accusative masculine singular of
- accusative neuter singular of
- vocative neuter singular of