In Norwegian there is a phrase, piss i havet, that directly translated means; piss in the ocean. This phrase is used when talking about something that might usually be significant, but looked at in the bigger picture, it is insignificant. Now, this concept seems quite basic to me, so I believe that there is an English equivalent. I'll give some examples of where the phrase is used, to better paint a picture of what I mean.

Usually, dropping a hammer is an unpleasant and loud sound. It will garner attention and people will be affected by it. Perhaps they'll tell you to not drop the hammer so much. If you are on the middle of the hellfire of war, on the battlefield, dropping a hammer would not garner much attention. The noise it makes blends in as soft sound when there are much louder sounds about. The noise of the hammer dropping therefore becomes piss in the ocean. What is the actual phrase for this?

Another example is, if you're making an absurd million dollars every week, five dollars becomes piss in the ocean.

2 Answers 2


There is a very similar phrase in English: A Drop in the Bucket, which led to a phrase even more similar to yours: A Drop in the Ocean. The former was immortalized in English likely through its use in the KJV Bible in its Early Modern English form:

Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. —Isaiah 40:15, KJV Bible emphasis added

It's worth considering, however, the phrases' collective definition in McGraw Hill's American Idioms Dictionary (mine is the 4th edition):

an insignificant contribution toward solving a large problem. Many companies donated food and medicine to help the survivors of the earthquake, but it was just a drop in the ocean of what was needed.

That one doesn't quite work with your examples since neither suggests a problem to be solved.

  • Is it normal however, to use either one of these phrases outside of the context of a problem?
    – A. Kvåle
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 9:18

pale in comparison TFD

To be or seem less important, impressive, or otherwise deficient when compared to someone or something else.

As in:

When you're making an absurd million dollars every week, five dollars pales in comparison.

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