Really, what the question title states. In my language there's a more "flowery" phrase to say "size doesn't matter". It would roughly translate to "even a small clown can work in the big top" – I'm looking for something that tries to maintain the wit of the "small"/"big" antithesis.

  • 12
    It's not the size of the boat, it's the motion of the ocean. comes (no pun intended) to mind...although I do find the Slovakian saying quite humorous.
    – JSanchez
    Mar 13, 2014 at 17:22
  • 5
    I was just wondering did you have one yourself ;) To extend on JSanchez's suggestion - It's not the size of the boat nor the motion in the ocean, it's whether or not the captain can stay in port long enough for all the passengers to get off
    – Ronan
    Mar 13, 2014 at 17:23
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    @RonanMurphy "It's not the size of the boat, nor the motion of the ocean but rather how well the guy uses his penis." That's how my grandmother used to say it. ;-p
    – David M
    Mar 13, 2014 at 17:33
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    @DavidM or indeed, "It's not the size of the boat, but does the guy not know how to use his hands and mouth? Oh you poor girl, you need to get him some education".
    – Jon Hanna
    Mar 14, 2014 at 11:22
  • 2
    A related question: Is there any expression used in English for this that doesn't have a stronger effect on making the speaker immediately less sexually attractive than their having a small penis did?
    – Jon Hanna
    Mar 14, 2014 at 12:58

5 Answers 5


It's not the size of the boat, it's the motion of the ocean. comes (no pun intended) to mind, although I'm sure there are many more.

  • 15
    "not the length of the wand, but the magic in the stick"
    – Roger
    Mar 13, 2014 at 18:35
  • 4
    similar to @Roger: "it's not the wand, but the skill of the wizard"
    – mcalex
    Mar 14, 2014 at 8:18

One that applies to more than just sex (expressing small size doesn't imply bad performance) is:

it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog


A commonly used expression (although not an idiom):

It's not the size that counts, it's how you use it.


"It's not the meat, it's the motion" is the one I've heard most frequently.


It's a grower not a shower at least implies function.

  • 7
    Well, actually that expression means "It may be small now when it is flaccid, but becomes much larger when it is erect."
    – IQAndreas
    Mar 14, 2014 at 21:55

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