Here is a first paragraph of a Meta SE post. It has a common word, "drop," that I don't understand in this context (the bolding is mine):

Recently, it was announced that the "Hot on Meta" questions would no longer show up on the SO sidebar. Sara Chipps elaborated a drop on why:

Does "drop" here mean the same as post in this context? Does it come from the idea that one drops a post into the ethernet, like one drops a letter into a mailbox?

Merriam-Webster has

d: a place or central depository to which something (such as mail, money, or stolen property) is brought for distribution or transmission

left the package at the drop

also : the act of depositing something at such a place

made the drop

Is this the dictionary definition that comes the closest to the usage in that Meta post?

Note: After the author clarified the meaning here, I went over to Meta SE and edited the post. The author kindly allowed my proposed edit to go through. Here's what it looks like now:

Recently, it was announced that the "Hot on Meta" questions would no longer show up on the SO sidebar. Sara Chipps elaborated a little bit on why:

  • Probably from the notion of “drop a line”.
    – user 66974
    Oct 3, 2019 at 21:00
  • 9
    I don't think this is a very common use of the word. But since the quote that follows it is only a few sentences long, I suspect they meant definition 1b in your link, "a minute quantity or degree of something nonmaterial or intangible." Oct 3, 2019 at 21:01
  • I take it as Sarah offered a clue as to why x wasn't happening; an 'information drop', either a guess or actual cause.
    – tblue
    Oct 3, 2019 at 21:31
  • figuratively i could suppose a drop would be a bit of information or data, but can find to citation to support such other than 'to drop a hint'
    – lbf
    Oct 3, 2019 at 22:20
  • @tblue - so far, your idea makes more sense to me than others. If anyone wants to turn this into an answer, we would need a couple of additional examples from the internet showing this usage. Sometimes dictionaries aren't up to the minute with modern usage.... Oct 3, 2019 at 22:36

6 Answers 6


Is this the dictionary definition that comes the closest to the usage in that Meta post?

No, the dictionary definition that comes closest is 1b in the same Merriam-Webster entry:

a minute quantity or degree of something nonmaterial or intangible

So when Sara Chipps elaborated “a drop” on why, she only explained the reasons “a little bit”, “to a small degree”, ever so “slightly”, “a tad”.

  • 4
    And a more typical way of saying this would be "elaborated a bit" or "elaborated a tad."
    – ArrowCase
    Oct 4, 2019 at 16:26

Considering in the same link the person says, "possibly a drop longer", a synonym for "drop" in both cases that's makes sense is "bit", meaning a small amount. Drop can be found to be a synonym of bit in some online references.


  • 9
    This is indeed how I was using the word. (I'm the OP of the Meta.SE post in question.)
    – Mithical
    Oct 4, 2019 at 3:59
  • @Mithical - Thanks so much for explaining and allowing the edit. Oct 4, 2019 at 22:12
  • @aparente001 The explanation and allowing the edit here? That was me.
    – user353675
    Oct 5, 2019 at 19:49
  • 1
    @user47014 - Sorry, I neglected to thank you too! But the thank-you for Mithical was especially important, as the author of the post I was having trouble understanding. Oct 7, 2019 at 2:32

Recently, it was announced that the "Hot on Meta" questions would no longer show up on the SO sidebar. Sara Chipps elaborated a drop on why:

From context, the meaning appears to be akin to an 'information drop' - either a guess or actual cause. Perhaps the term was off-the-cuff, or even shorthand from a particular occupation.

Edit: After seeing the thread, I now agree that the most likely candidate is "a bit", a small amount.

  • 1
    Two of these are verbs and the other doesn't make sense. If you were to "elaborate an information drop" that would mean you are explaining how the information drop will work or something like that, it wouldn't be relaying the actual information. Not to mention the definition is about delivering physical objects. Or would you say, "I did the information drop" when talking about telling someone something. That's fairly odd, unless it was about dropping off an actual letter or something like that.
    – user353675
    Oct 4, 2019 at 1:07
  • @user47014 - What was confusing me was that one can use "elaborate" to mean "create (something complex and detailed)." Oct 6, 2019 at 0:12
  • @aparente001 Yes I can see the confusion, "creating an information drop on why" could fit a scenario some where it would seem.
    – user353675
    Oct 6, 2019 at 3:23

The simple answer is that the meaning is completely unknowable. It is non-standard, unclear, idiomatic writing, at best.

A "drop" can mean a small quantity. But it does not work in non-material contexts. It would have been clear if the sentence used the common phrase "a bit" -- "Sara Chipps elaborated a bit on why." This would easily be parsed to mean, she elaborated "in a small way" or "briefly."

Other meanings of "drop" == a decline; a steep change in elevation; even the slangy "release, submission or distribution" don't seem to apply here.


I think in this context it is like a drop of water from the faucet, just a small amount. Related expressions are "drips and drops" or "dribs and drabs," e.g. "The police commisioner released details of the investigation in drips and drops" meaning information was slowly released.


It is interesting to see "elaborated" and "drop" together in this context. But to play devil's advocate, "drop" is a remarkably versatile word. In this specific context, "a tiny drop" is most appropriate out of the 176 possible definitions on Crossword Solver.

  • 1
    I knew that might have been what the OP had in mind when she wrote the post. But given the other possible meaning(s) of the word, I wasn't sure. You don't seem to be actually answering the question I asked. At StackExchange, it's important to make sure you are actually answering what was asked; otherwise, users with at least 15 reputation points can contribute "comments" when they have tangential remarks to make. Perhaps if you explain your first sentence, your answer will come into clearer focus. You'll find the "edit" button just under your last paragraph. Oct 29, 2019 at 16:43

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