smidgen

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Likely based on a variant of smiddum, smeddum (fine powder), influenced by Scots smitch (stain, speck, small amount, trace).[1][2] Alternatively, from *smitching, a diminutive of smitch. Compare Northumbrian dialectal English smiddum (small particle of lead ore; smitham).[3] Scots smitch, also smutch, likely derives from English dialectal smit, smite (bit, small portion), Old English smytta, smitta (a smear, blot, spot, mark, pollution), related to Old English smītan (to daub, smear, smudge); or possibly from *smuddian, *smyddan, *smydecian, *smydegian (to soil, stain, taint, blacken), perhaps related to Middle Low German smudde (dirt, filth), smudden (to soil, make dirty), Middle High German smotzen (to be dirty). If so, then cognate with smudge.

Alternate etymology connects smidgeon with Scottish Gaelic smidin (small syllable), though this is highly improbable considering the implied semantic shift that would have to have occurred.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

smidgen (plural smidgens)

  1. A very small quantity or amount.
    Synonyms: hair's breadth; see also Thesaurus:modicum
    Would you like some more cake? —I'll have a smidgen.
    Move it a smidgen to the right.
    • 1907, Will N. Harben, chapter XXXVII, in Mam' Linda[2]:
      I could listen to forty million men like this candidate expound his views and it wouldn't alter me one smidgen in the belief that Carson Dwight has acted only as a true Christian would.
    • 1921, William Patterson White, chapter XVIII, in The Heart of the Range[3]:
      "You did! Aw right, you go right in and tell 'em the truth, all of it, every last smidgen."

Usage notes[edit]

Some cookbooks and manufacturers of kitchen measurement sets have attempted to define a smidgen for recipes. Anything between 125 and 148 of a teaspoon may be found, 132 being perhaps the most commonly used. Other commonly used measures for small amounts include tad, dash, pinch, and drop. There seems to be some consensus of tad being the largest in this set and a smidgen being larger than a drop but smaller than a pinch.

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Jamieson (1825), “smitch”, in Supplement to the Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, volume II, Edinburgh, page 426
  2. ^ Scots Online Dictionary[1], (please provide a date or year)
  3. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2022), “smidgen”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Anagrams[edit]