Etymology
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insignificant (adj.)
1650s, "without meaning," also "answering to no purpose," from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + significant. From 1748 as "small in size." Related: Insignificantly.
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insignificance (n.)
1690s, from insignificant + -ance. Earlier was insignificancy (1650s).
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piddling (adj.)
"insignificant, trifling," 1550s, present-participle adjective from piddle (v.).
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penny-ante (adj.)
"cheap, trivial," 1935; extended from use in reference to poker played for insignificant stakes (1855), from penny + ante.
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smidgen (n.)
1845, perhaps from Scottish smitch "very small amount; small insignificant person" (1822). Compare Northumbrian dialectal smiddum "small particle of lead ore" (1821).
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peppercorn (n.)

"dried pepper berry," late Old English piporcorn, from pepper (n.) + corn (n.1). Used figuratively for "small particle, insignificant quality" by 1791.

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whiffle (v.)
"flicker or flutter as if blown by the wind," 1660s; see whiff. The noun meaning "something light or insignificant" (1670s) is preserved in whiffle-ball (1931).
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jerkwater (adj.)
also jerk-water, "petty, inferior, insignificant," 1890, earlier in reference to certain railroad trains and lines (1878); in both cases the notion is of a steam locomotive crew having to take on boiler water from a trough or a creek because there was no water tank; see jerk (v.1) + water (n.1). This led to an adjectival use of jerk as "inferior, insignificant;" hence also jerkwater town (1893).
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dismissive (adj.)

1640s, "characterized by or appropriate to dismissal;" from dismiss + -ive. Meaning "contemptuous, tending to reject as insignificant" is recorded by 1922 (implied in dismissively). Related: Dismissiveness.

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rushlight (n.)

"a light made from a stripped, dried rush dipped repeatedly in tallow," 1710, from rush (n.1) + light (n.). Earlier rush-candle (1590s). Figurative of something insignificant, thin, or faintly glimmering.

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