I'm looking for a word that would describe y as being 'pale in comparison' to x.

So an example is a fantasy story where X and Y receive special powers from their gods, with X gaining a full body transformation while Y only has their weapon enchanted. Then X says to Y:

"Now this... is a blessing... that... is [insert word here]".

Some words I thought of that have similar meaning are:

  • food scraps
  • afterthought
  • leftovers
  • trifling


Am trying to look for something that's more supernatural based. But I'm not looking towards something as extreme as a curse. Something like a minor blessing. I'm willing to accept words that replace blessing with a stronger word e.g. miracle and use blessing as the lesser word.


12 Answers 12


Consider: measly.

I was just reading Kory Stamper's Word by Word in which she describes her experiences as a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. She described needing to differentiate "measly" from other types of "small" and provided this footnote:

"Measly" is defined in the Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, as "contemptibly small." Emily Brewster thinks it might be the best definition in the whole book.

"Contemptibly small" does match the meaning implied in the example sentence of the OP question. It also matches the emotional context of "food scraps" and "leftovers." I'm not so sure it matches the "inadequate" criterion in the title.


Most of these answers provide terms that describe poor quality, but don't address the comparative element of the question. This could be a problem if both items being compared are valuable on their own and you're just trying to point out that one is much more valuable than the other.

One term for describing one thing as being less valuable than another without making any implications about its objective value is to describe the former as inferior to the latter, e.g. "Mine is the perfect gift; yours is inferior."

If you can accept a phrase, then consider describing the lesser item as paling in comparison to the greater. For example, "Your gift pales in comparison to mine." This alludes to the appearance of one item seeming less vivid and appealing than another when the two are held side-by-side, as the latter is more vivid and the eye/brain adjusts to hold the former item to that standard.

  • That's an interesting point. – PV22 Jun 25 '17 at 22:09
  • I think I like your mindset the most since it's actually trying to do a proper comparison, though I was wondering if there was a word that was a bit more direct with the supernatural. Like, in my edit, a word that means minor blessing. I've thought of keywords like negligible and trifling but can't quite put my finger on it. – A. L Jun 25 '17 at 23:30
  • A blessing in the context you describe being a gift from a deity, you could describe the lesser blessing as "(merely) a divine favor". A favor might be considered a "minor" gift, especially as it's used in the term "party favor", but also because a favor is usually just slightly beyond common courtesy. Other than that, I doubt there's a single word synonym for "lesser/small blessing" that would suit your needs. – talrnu Jun 26 '17 at 14:25
  • If phrases are in, and comparison is the main concern, I'd go with the short end of the stick. – Mazura Jun 26 '17 at 22:35
  • @Mazura Good thought. That phrase tends to apply to trades where one trader gets a worse deal than the other, but if the blessings being bestowed are part of some kind of agreement it would certainly apply here. – talrnu Jun 27 '17 at 13:25

You might consider pathetic, as per item 2 in this list from Oxford Dictionaries


  1. Arousing pity, especially through vulnerability or sadness.
    ‘she looked so pathetic that I bent down to comfort her’
  2. informal Miserably inadequate.
    ‘he's a pathetic excuse for a man’
  3. archaic Relating to the emotions.

Diminutive [dih-min-yuh-tiv]/ adjective

  1. small; little; tiny: a diminutive building for a model-train layout.

  2. Grammar. pertaining to or productive of a form denoting smallness, familiarity, affection, or triviality, as the suffix -let, in droplet from drop. noun

  3. a small thing or person.

  4. Heraldry. a charge, as an ordinary, smaller in length or breadth than the usual.

Source: Dictionary.com

In reference to the OP comment: it's actually trying to do a proper comparison, though I was wondering if there was a word that was a bit more direct with the supernatural. Like, in my edit, a word that means minor blessing

With its connection to heraldry, this term contains the concept of a minor blessing (underneath a major blessing).

  • @tchrist I am happy to provide additional content where it is called for, however I agree with 0xFEE1DEAD that a well chosen word is original content for questions like these. I will add your criticism to meta for discussion. – PV22 Jun 26 '17 at 0:58
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    @tchrist See meta discussion on this topic here. Though this is an older meta post, there does not seem to be any definitive answer on the topic. I would say that most of the answers to this question seem to follow the preferred formatting guidelines and meet the expectations for answering the question. – PV22 Jun 26 '17 at 1:15

flaccid [flak-sid, flas-id]/ adjective

  1. soft and limp; not firm; flabby: flaccid biceps.

  2. lacking force; weak:

Source: Dictionary.com

  • This comment lacks any original content. – tchrist Jun 25 '17 at 18:47
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    @tchrist What original content do you expect? – NVZ Jun 25 '17 at 18:58
  • 1
    @NVZ Something that enhances our site's growing library of expert answers to questions about English. An expert answer is never just copypasta: it always includes mostly original text. – tchrist Jun 25 '17 at 19:03
  • 3
    @tchrist I'd argue that in single-word request, the originality lies in finding the word that best fits the context. – 0xFEE1DEAD Jun 25 '17 at 19:22
  1. Infinitesimal
  2. Minuscule

Both the above words mean something "extremely small".


Demi- Word Origin

  1. a combining form appearing in loanwords from French meaning “half” (demilune), “lesser” (demitasse), or sometimes used with a pejorative sense (demimonde); on this model, also prefixed to words of English origin (demigod).

Source: Dictionary.com

In reference to the OP comment: it's actually trying to do a proper comparison, though I was wondering if there was a word that was a bit more direct with the supernatural. Like, in my edit, a word that means minor blessing

"Now this... is a blessing... that... is a demiblessing"

  • sounds close, but I don't feel like it's still quite the word I'm looking for. – A. L Jun 25 '17 at 23:44

Paltry [pawl-tree] /adjective

  1. ridiculously or insultingly small.

Source: Dictionary.com

"Now this... is a blessing... that... is paltrier"


" Now this is an epic blessing. That is a mere rare blessing."

"Epic" and "rare" are classifications in a hierarchical system used to distinguish quality levels of equipment in World of Warcraft (LINK to article)

The ranking is as follows:

Epic > Rare > Uncommon > Poor quality.

I apologize if this allusion is outside of the scope of acceptable answers on this SE. Please let me know and I will delete. I included this answer because it is steeped in the fantasy genre, which seems applicable to the OP.

  • 1
    The specific choice of epic vs. rare might be lost on a non-gamer, but this does seem like the right track - perhaps comparing e.g. legendary to common would get the point across well enough whether you know about game item naming conventions or not. – talrnu Jun 26 '17 at 14:12

Pitiful [pit-i-fuh l] /adjective

  1. evoking or deserving pity.

  2. evoking or deserving contempt by smallness, poor quality, etc.

Source: Dictionary.com

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    There is no original content here, merely copypasta. We are not a link-farm. – tchrist Jun 25 '17 at 18:47

I think this word would be perfectly appropriate here, although it's a noun:

Paucity [paw-si-tee] / noun

  1. smallness of quantity; scarcity; scantiness: a country with a paucity of resources.
  2. smallness or insufficiency of number; fewness.

Source: Dictionary.com

What you gave me is a paucity!

  • 1
    Answers should consist primarily of your own words. – tchrist Jun 25 '17 at 18:46

Thank you all for the answers, but I found something that seems to fit the situation/example quite well but I wanted some opinions. I think the word that fits best in my example is: nominal

The definition for the word is:

being such in name only; so-called; putative:

I feel that this word is the best as it is regarding Y's blessing as being 'in name only' and is not sufficiently worthy of the word 'blessing' as his blessing is.

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