many a mickle makes a muckle
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˌmɛni‿ə ˈmɪk(ə)l meɪks‿ə ˈmʌk(ə)l/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˌmɛni‿ə ˈmɪkəl meɪks‿ə ˈmʌkəl/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -ʌkəl
- Hyphenation: ma‧ny a mick‧le makes a muck‧le
The original form of the proverb was many a little (or pickle) makes a mickle, mickle meaning “a great amount”. However, it became corrupted to many a mickle makes a muckle, leading to mickle being thought to mean “a small quantity” and muckle to mean “a large quantity”, even though muckle is a variant of mickle and both mean “a large quantity”. The vowel change suggests the influence of ablaut reduplication.
- (chiefly Northern England, Scotland) A lot of small amounts, put together, become a large amount. [from 1793]
- Synonyms: every little helps, little and often fills the purse, many a little makes a mickle, many a pickle makes a mickle, take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves
- 1793 April 21, George Washington; Worthington Chauncey Ford, compiler and editor, “Letters to Anthony Whiting, 1793”, in The Writings of George Washington, volume XII (1790–1794), New York, N.Y.; London: G[eorge] P[almer] Putnam’s Sons, the Knickerbocker Press, published 1891, →OCLC, page 382:
- People are often ruined before they are aware of the danger, by buying everything they think they want, without adverting to a Scotch adage—than which nothing in nature is more true—"that many mickles make a muckle."
lot of small amounts, put together, become a large amount
- ^ “many a little (also pickle) makes a mickle (now frequently in the garbled form many a mickle makes a muckle)” under “mickle, adj., pron. (and n.), and adv.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; “many a little makes a mickle, phrase”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
- Alan D[urward] Mickle (1953) Many a Mickle, Melbourne, Vic.: F[rank] W[alter] Cheshire, →OCLC, page 12.