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Not One-Off Britishisms

"Small Beer" and "Hard Cheese"

[From Not One-Off Britishisms]

A line in David Carr’s column in the New York Times a couple of days ago caught my eye:

“Fumbling an editorial change may seem like small beer when viewed against the backdrop of an industry in which bankruptcies are legion and rich business interests are buying newspapers as playthings.”

I wasn’t familiar with small beer, but it had the ring of a NOOB, so I investigated. The first OED definition is “Beer of a weak, poor, or inferior quality” (what Americans might call near beer). The second, by extension, relates to Carr’s meaning: “Trivial occupations,