Likely based on a variant of smiddum, smeddum (“fine powder”), influenced by Scots smitch (“stain, speck, small amount, trace”). Alternatively, from *smitching, a diminutive of smitch. Compare Northumbrian dialectal English smiddum (“small particle of lead ore; smitham”). 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.
smidgen (plural smidgens)
- 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.
- 1921, William Patterson White, chapter XVIII, in The Heart of the Range:
- "You did! Aw right, you go right in and tell 'em the truth, all of it, every last smidgen."
Some cookbooks and manufacturers of kitchen measurement sets have attempted to define a smidgen for recipes. Anything between 1⁄25 and 1⁄48 of a teaspoon may be found, 1⁄32 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.