C’est une goutte d’eau dans la mer.
say ewn goot DOE dah lah MARE. Click below to hear this pronounced!
It’s a drop in the bucket.
Or rather, a drop of water in the ocean.
Une goutte, a drop–in a bucket or in the sea–is an infinitesimally small thing: insignificant, without effect, changing nothing.
Or is it?
J’ai la goutte au nez means I have a runny nose (literally, I have a drop in my nose). Very annoying, and enough to prevent you, let’s say, from making that important speech or singing a solo. (Pronounce: zhay lah GOO toe nay.)
Il prend la goutte means He’s having a nip (of alcohol). What if he has a few gouttes, and then gets behind the wheel of a car? Don’t even think about it. (Pronounce: eel prah lah GOOT.)
On lui a fait du goutte-à-goutte means They put him on an IV drip (literally, They did a drop-by-drop on him). Lifesaving, perhaps, and not in the least bit insignificant! (Pronounce: aw lwee yah fay dew GOO tah GOOT.)
And don’t forget the ripple effect, or l’effet de vague (the wave effect, lay-fay duh VAHG)! It only takes une goutte, une seule (just one) to start it.