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small beer

weak beer.
Chiefly British Slang. matters or persons of little or no importance.
Origin of small beer
First recorded in 1560-70 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for small beer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Taffy, sprung of good parents, thinks no small beer of himself.

    The Comic Latin Grammar Percival Leigh
  • But it was Christmas Eve and snowing outside—and he took a small beer!

    Cobb's Bill-of-Fare Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb
  • Woman was no longer the captive of the seraglio, nor the chronicler of small beer.

    Hopes and Fears Charlotte M. Yonge
  • There was also a pewter mug for each, three-parts filled with small beer.

    Rattlin the Reefer Edward Howard
  • There is nothing at all left now but biscuit and small beer.

  • It smells of herrings and small beer, and they get weary of waiting.

    The Son of a Servant August Strindberg
  • Cordoba province, like the other provinces, thinks no small beer of itself.

    The Amazing Argentine John Foster Fraser
  • For a hot dish with small beer or cider, 1s.; for a cold dish, 4d.

    Seaport in Virginia

    Gay Montague Moore
British Dictionary definitions for small beer

small beer

(informal, mainly Brit) people or things of no importance
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for small beer

1560s, originally "weak beer;" used figuratively of small things or trifling matters. Small with the meaning "of low alcoholic content" is attested from mid-15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for small beer

small beer


Something or someone insignificant: that idea is just small beer

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with small beer

small beer

Also, small potatoes . Of little importance, as in Don't listen to Henry; he's small beer , or It's silly to worry about that bill; it's small potatoes . The first term alludes to a beer of low alcoholic content (also called light beer today) and was used metaphorically by Shakespeare in several plays. The variant may have been invented by frontiersman Davy Crockett; it was first recorded in 1836. Also see small fry , def. 2.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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