widow’s mite: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘widow's mite’ mean?

The idiom widow's mite refers to a small or insignificant amount of money or contribution given by a person who is considered to be financially or socially poor.

Idiom Explorer

Invaluable Generosity

Widow's mite is an idiom derived from a story in the New Testament that symbolizes the idea that a small donation can carry great value and significance. In the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke, Jesus observes people making offerings at the temple treasury. While many wealthy individuals make large donations, it is the widow who catches Jesus' attention with her two small coins, known as "mites".

Over time, the idiom "widow's mite" has come to represent the notion that even a small or modest contribution can hold significant meaning. It emphasizes the intention and spirit behind the donation, rather than solely focusing on the monetary value. The idiom has transcended its religious origins and is now widely used in contexts involving charity and philanthropy, highlighting the importance of acknowledging and appreciating even the smallest contributions.

Examining the story of the widow's mite provides insight into the values and teachings found in the Bible, particularly in relation to generosity and compassion. It prompts us to reflect on the significance of giving and challenges societal notions of value. The idiom encourages us to recognize and appreciate the efforts and sacrifices made by those who may not have much to give.

The widow's mite showcased her biblical generosity through donation.

Furthermore, the idiom encourages us to consider our own giving behavior and the impact it can have on others. It reminds us that our contributions, no matter how small, can inspire others to also give what they can. The idiom highlights the power of collective action and the potential for positive change that can arise from individual acts of generosity.

While the idiom has religious origins, its message resonates in contemporary society. In a world focused on wealth and material possessions, the idea of the widow's mite serves as a powerful reminder that true value and meaning can be found in the simplest acts of giving. It challenges us to rethink our understanding of generosity and reminds us of the countless ways in which we can make a difference in the lives of others.

The idiom "widow's mite" also relates to the idiom "dime's worth". Both idioms convey the idea that a small amount can have significant value. Just as the widow's two small coins held great meaning, a dime's worth can represent a small but valuable contribution or effort. Both idioms remind us that it is the intention and impact that matter, rather than the size or monetary value of the contribution.

Similarly, the idiom "widow's mite" can be related to the phrase "chump change". This expression refers to a small amount of money that is considered insignificant or of little value. However, both the widow's mite and chump change challenge societal judgments about value. While chump change may be dismissed as insignificant, the widow's small contribution challenges us to recognize the significance and impact even small amounts can have. Both idioms prompt us to reconsider our perception of value and to appreciate the efforts and contributions, regardless of their size.

Example usage

Example 1: She donated her widow's mite to the charity, even though it was a small amount.

Example 2: The child shared his widow's mite of candy with his siblings.

Example 3: The company's CEO contributed his widow's mite by personally volunteering at the local homeless shelter.

More "Religion" idioms