'Many a mickle makes (or 'maks') a muckle' is a curious Scottish saying of antiquity, although it is also common in the North of England and not entirely unknown elsewhere. It is derived from 'A wheen o’ mickles mak’s a muckle', and means 'many of one thing make another, larger, thing'. A simple lesson, but one which needs restating; one must always look after the pennies.

What are 'mickles' and 'muckles'? Webster 1913 states that each word is essentially a variant of the other, both meaning 'amount'. Arguments arge as to whether 'mickle' is in this case a corruption of 'pickle' (a Scots word for 'little'), and as to whether 'mickle' was once inherently inferior to 'muckle' or merely a variant. Whatever the case, the proliferation of this proverb has ensured that 'muckle' is now widely regarded as being the superior of 'mickle', something which is likely to persist.

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