small time

noun (in vaudeville)
a circuit of minor theaters giving three or more shows daily.

1920–25, Americanism Unabridged


of modest or insignificant size, importance, or influence: a small-time politician.


small-timer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
informal insignificant; minor: a small-time criminal

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1910, originally theater slang for lower-salaried circuits, or ones requiring more daily performances.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

small time

A modest or minor level of achievement, as in Her success took her out of the small time to prime-time television. This expression was originally used in vaudeville for second-rate theaters and productions. [Early 1900s] Also see big time, def. 2.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Those are small time commitments, but they're incredibly important.
Nor small time hoodlums guns, if they don't have connections with a larger
Notice the one of the main way for them to arrest small time drug users is
  threw a traffic stop.
The effect is to hand control of development to a commission made up almost
  exclusively of small time architects.
Idioms & Phrases
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