Origin of smidgen
- Probably alteration of dialectal smitch particle perhaps ultimately from Middle English smite perhaps from past participle of smiten to smite smite
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
- Likely based on a variant of smeddum, influenced by Scots "smitch" ("stain, speck") . Confer Northumbrian dialectal English smiddum ("small particle of lead ore; smitham"). Scots "smitch" may derive from an unattested synonym of Old English "smÄ«tan" ("to daub, smear, smudge; soil, defile, pollute"): *smÅcgan ("to soil, stain, taint, blacken"). If so, then cognate with smudge.
- Alternate etymology connects smidgeon with Scottish Gaelic "smidin" ("small syllable"), though this is highly improbable considering the implied semantic shift that would have to have occurred.