Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Great.
  • adv. Greatly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Large, great.
  • adj. A great quantity or amount of.
  • n. A great amount.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Much; great.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Great; large.
  • Much; abundant.
  • n. Size; magnitude; bigness.
  • n. A great deal; a large quantity: as, many littles make a mickle.
  • To magnify.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (often followed by `of') a large number or amount or extent

Etymologies

Middle English mikel, from Old English micel and from Old Norse mikill; see meg- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English mikel, muchel, mochel, mukel, from Old English miċel, myċel, (now chiefly Northumbrian and Scottish). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • He does not regard the Scotchman's "mickle," because he does not stop to consider that the end is a "muckle."

    The Negro Problem

  • Another and sadder "mickle" has been the departure of ten lepers for

    The Hawaiian Archipelago

  • "Aye, weel, mony a mickle mak's a muckle, as Papa used to say."

    Watershed

  • Many proverbs use alliteration: "Many a mickle (little) makes a muckle (lot)," rhyme: "Man proposes, God disposes," parallelism: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," ellipsis: "First come, first served," etc.

    The Nature Of Proverbs

  • Miss Clara does not merit respect and kindness at your hand; but I doubt mickle if she wad care a bodle for thae braw things.

    Saint Ronan's Well

  • ‘And ye ken mickle less of my hinnie, sir,’ replied Maggie,

    Redgauntlet

  • Telford take the mickle brown aver and the black cut-tailed mare, and make out towards the Kerry-craigs, and see what tidings you can have of

    The Abbot

  • As for the lust of the belly, eating and drinking, what pleaseth Allah thereof is that each take naught save that which the Almighty hath appointed him be it little or mickle, and praise the Lord and thank Him; and what angereth Him thereof is that a man take that which is not his by right.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • When Sir John Good-Ale heard of this, Thomas Good-Ale he came with mickle might

    John Barleycorn

  • Albeit Hagen sprang at Gelfrat fiercely, the noble margrave smote from his shield a mickle piece, so that the sparks flew wide.

    The Nibelungenlied

Comments

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  • "As a result, the authorities of his country, the United States of America, have made him swear a mickle oath of secrecy, and keep supplying him with new uniforms of various services and ranks, and now have sent him to London."
    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, p 146 of the Avon Books paperback edition

    January 28, 2013

  • sounds like Nickels.... which are just as good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 29, 2010

  • "Many a little makes a micle."
    - William Camden, 'Remaines of a greater worke concerning Britaine, 1605'.

    October 23, 2008

  • Mickle is supposed to mean a lot? This is quite confounding.

    August 18, 2008

  • It was only through a question on the buy vaccines site (which, I regret to say, is considerable lamer than the freerice site) that I learned yesterday that a 'mickle' is, in fact, a large quantity, not an infinitesimal one. Because of the proverb I had always thought a mickle was like a drop in the bucket.

    But it could also be argued that it's counterintuitive to have the two words mean the same thing. One is inclined to think of analogies like 'micro/macro', where the vowel change indicates a shift in meaning.

    August 2, 2008

  • I had a few Scots swear white and blue at me that sionny's version of the proverb was correct. I claimed it wasn't, based essentially on what qroqqa has explained. Modern usage decoupled from history again.

    August 2, 2008

  • 'Mickle' and 'muckle' are dialectal variants of the same word; it is related to Latin magn-, Greek megal-, Sanskrit mah-. Its palatalized form is seen in Tolkien's Michel Delving in the Shire; and a variant of this gave rise to Middle English 'much'.

    The confusion of the proverb—treating 'mickle' and 'muckle' as opposites instead of synonyms—is first recorded in the papers of one George Washington, who calls it 'a Scotch addage'.

    August 1, 2008

  • I'd always heard this proverb as "many a mickle makes a muckle".

    December 10, 2007

  • Proverb: Many a little makes a mickle.

    December 10, 2007

  • "And whiles they spake the door of the castle was opened and there nighed them a mickle noise as of many that sat there at meat. "
    Joyce, Ulysses, 14

    January 20, 2007