Aren’t the words we use funny sometimes? Have you ever had gobs of fun at a birthday party? Or have you ever helped make a recipe that called for a smidgen of cinnamon or a pinch of salt or a dash of Tabasco sauce? What do these words mean?

Believe it or not, some of these words only have general meanings, while others have specific measurements associated with them. Grab a set of measuring spoons, and let’s learn a bit more about these unique measuring terms.

A gob, for example, is a general term meaning a large amount. It’s often used in its plural form: gobs. So, if you’ve had gobs of fun at a birthday party in the past, you had a whole lot of fun.

On the other hand, a smidgen refers to a very small amount. Other forms of smidgen include smidgeon, smidgin or smidge. Obviously, a gob is definitely more than a smidgen!

Smidgen is more than just a general term, though. It — along with several other unique words — has a specific, measurable meaning, too.

Although you can find different opinions on the subject, many cooks believe that a smidgen is equal to 1/32 teaspoon. Others believe a smidgen may be either 1/25 teaspoon or even 1/48 teaspoon. In any case, it’s a very small amount!

In descending order, here are some popular — and unique — measurements for very small amounts:

  • tad = 1/8 teaspoon
  • dash = 1/16 teaspoon
  • pinch = 1/24 teaspoon
  • smidgen = 1/32 teaspoon
  • drop = 1/60 teaspoon
  • hint = a trace

Using these measurement guidelines, two smidgens would equal one dash. But is it really important to measure such small amounts? Maybe — it depends on whom you ask.

Some cooks will tell you that improperly measuring ingredients is the fastest way to ruin a recipe. Of course, in many situations, that could be true. A cake recipe that calls for two cups of flour could certainly suffer if you used three or four cups of flour by mistake.

But what about tiny amounts? Some cooks believe these historically tiny amounts were never intended to have definite measurements associated with them. They believe these unique names were developed to describe small, indefinite amounts used merely to add flavor to certain dishes.

For example, many cooks would tell you that it won’t matter much whether you put a tad, a dash, a pinch or a smidgen of something in a recipe. All you’ll do is add a bit of flavor, regardless of the exact amount. When so little of an ingredient is needed, the exact amount is irrelevant.

When it comes to larger measurements of key ingredients, like sugar, flour and baking powder, though, careful measurement can make a much bigger difference. So don’t sweat the small stuff, but pay close attention when a recipe calls for larger amounts of ingredients!


22 Join the Discussion

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    • Hi, Tman! Please tell Miss Shoemaker that we think a Wonder about cake decorating would be FUN (and tasty!). Tell her thank you for the great idea! :-)

    • Hi, hockey2399! We always try to pick the best video to go with each new Wonder of the Day®. Sometimes a video might help explain the Wonder better, and sometimes it just relates to the Wonder in an interesting way (like baking and measurements for this video). To find the answer to the Wonder of the Day® question and learn some really cool new things, make sure you explore all the sections of each Wonder…even the cool links in the text! :-)

  1. Dave again. The school blocked the world record website, but I’m going to the library to send in my application. Thanks for the support.

    • Let us know how it goes! We would LOVE to hear that a Wonder Friend of ours has broken a World Record! Goooooo, David! :-)

  2. WOW!! We would love to try whoopie pies. They sound delicious!

    Many of us did not know that a teaspoon could be divided into smaller amounts. Many of us like to cook and thought the “new” terms were interesting. We had never thought about spraying our utensils first to help with getting honey out of a measuring spoon.

    Thanks again and have a WONDERful weekend.

    • We hope you have a WONDERful weekend, too, Kerrick Elementary! Let us know if any of you try making the whoopie pies with your families…we want to know how they turned out! We think we will try to make some this weekend, too. Since it’s getting close to Halloween, we think we might try making PUMPKIN flavored ones! :-)

  3. WOW! I’d really like a whoopie pie right now! I might just go and make my own. Thanks for helping me get to where I needed to start! Thanks!

    • We’re glad you feel inspired to make your own whoopie pies after exploring this Wonder of the Day®, Nick! What flavor are you thinking of making? Whatever flavor you decide, we know they will be WONDERful! Please be sure to ask an adult to help you in the kitchen (if you’re not an adult yourself)! :-)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We learned a lot from this article on gobs and smidgens. We were wondering how/where gobs and smidgens got their name [word origin]?


    • That’s a WONDERful question, Mrs. Johnson’s third grade! We can tell you’ve been using your thinking caps today!

      We did some more WONDERING, and found that the origin of the word “smidgen” might be found in the Scottish words “smitch” (very small amount) or “smidin” (small syllable). “Gob” might have come from the Middle English word “gobbet” (a chunk or lump of meat). It’s fun to explore where words get their beginnings! :-)

  5. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I am in Ms. Johonson’s . I was wondering how Wonderopolis got its name and where it got its name? Tell me how the whoopie pies are. I think Wonderopolis is a good place to go on at free time.
    Thanks, bye.


    • Hi, Rylie! We’re so glad you think Wonderopolis is a fun place to spend your free time! Learning in Wonderopolis is FUN!

      Wonderopolis is named Wonderopolis because it is a WONDERful place where WONDER happens all the time! Thank you for visiting today! :-)

  6. One boy in my class thought it was beans. I thought it was potatoes (like you were going to make mashed potatoes).

    • Hello, soccer101! We hope you learned some new things from this Wonder! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today! :-)

  7. Tman coolman is in my class, also david and hocey2399. My teacher thought it would be cake decorating. Mmmmmmmm. Now I want cake, even though I just had cookies and milk. I play soccer and I’m getting better at it. I’m watching Thor, it’s a really good movie. You should watch it sometime. Well, see you tomorrow and I was in Florida when when it was your b-day, so I could not sing happy b-day so….. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO WONDEROPOLIS, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!!!

  8. Hi Wonderopolis. My name is Avery and today is my birthday. My class ( Mrs.Johnson’s third grade) goes on your website every day. I was wondering who invented the hula hoop? Who invented poems? From Avery

    • Hi, Avery! We’re so happy to hear that you and your classmates visit Wonderopolis every day! We love your question about the hula hoop! That would make an AWESOME future Wonder of the Day®! There are so many different types of poems with different histories! Here are some Wonders of the Day about poetry for you to visit when you get some time:

      We almost forgot….HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AVERY! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Is a gob more than a smidgen?
  • How many smidgens are in a dash?
  • When is it important to measure ingredients accurately?

Wonder Gallery

two kids mixing_shutterstock_52176727Vimeo Video

Try It Out

We need your help. Here in the Wonderopolis kitchen we’ve been making gobs, but we need enough to serve our team of 10. We need to increase our recipe!

Gobs — also known as “whoopie pies” — are American baked treats that are like a cross between cakes and cookies. Popular in New England and Pennsylvania Amish country, whoopie pies consist of two rounded pieces of cake (usually chocolate, although pumpkin or gingerbread are also popular) with frosting sandwiched between them.

If you’re wondering how whoopie pies got their name, legend has it that Amish women would bake these desserts from leftover cake batter. They called them “hucklebucks.” When their husbands would find them in their lunchboxes, they would shout “Whoopie!”

Is this true? Who knows? We think it’s just as likely they’re called gobs by some people because they have gobs of sugar and taste!

If you’re interested in making some traditional Amish whoopie pies, here’s a list of ingredients for making five cakes. Help us calculate how to make enough for 10 people.

Calculate and record the revised measurements and email them to us, so we can get started cooking. Thanks for your help!

Then follow these directions to make our Amish whoopie pies. You’ll want help in the kitchen, so find someone to assist.

Or if you don’t feel like baking today, read more about the history of whoopie pies and how to make them.


Still Wondering

Use Illuminations’ What Should I Measure Next? How About Me! lesson to practice measurement by learning how to measure yourself!


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