- weak beer.
- Chiefly British Slang. matters or persons of little or no importance.
Origin of small beer
Examples from the Web for small beer
Historical Examples of small beer
M. M. Plentiful diet of flesh-meat and vegetables with small-beer.Zoonomia, Vol. II
His usual beverage was small-beer and cider, and Madeira wine.Washington and the American Republic, Vol. 3.
Benson J. Lossing
One morning a man stepped in and bought a bottle of small-beer.
"Bread and cheese and small-beer, father," says she, smiling.English Fairy Tales
Flora Annie Steel
This production ‘was voted heretical,’ and burned by the hands of the small-beer drawer, while the author was expelled.Oxford
- informal, mainly British people or things of no importance
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.
Idioms and Phrases with 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.