They were then cast aside as so much chaff.

I strongly suspect, that this means 'cast aside as mere chaff' but I'm not sure.

1 Answer 1


You are mostly correct. "So much" technically implies "an arbitrary amount".

Some things are of very little value, like pennies, but if you have a lot of pennies, then you have something of value. But other things, like chaff, have no value no matter how much of it you have. It is worthless in any quantity. "So much chaff" means "any amount of chaff" which implies "chaff has absolutely no value, maybe even negative value".

"Mere" means "of little value", so you have the correct gist, except that "so much chaff" is actually stronger than "mere chaff". "Mere" might mean there is some value, however small (like a penny), but "so much" is telling us that there isn't even a small amount of value.

  • Can I use 'so much' to diminish something of real value for example 'they ditched the chine-silk pillows right into the fire, as so much fluffy puppies' ?
    – Burglar
    Nov 12, 2018 at 7:15
  • Yes! You can! In this example, you are stating that the speaker thinks that fluffy puppies have no value, or alternatively that the speaker thinks that the people doing the throwing think that puppies have no value. Nov 12, 2018 at 7:18
  • Ah, I almost forgot-- when using this phrase, check "countability". You wouldn't say "so much fluffy puppies", you'd say "so many fluffy puppies". Nov 12, 2018 at 7:34

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