it was no small wonder?

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  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Excellent question!

    Oxford appears to contradict itself. First it lists the phrases meaning “unsurprising” as no wonder, little wonder and small wonder (to which you could arguably add the interrogative form, “Is it any wonder?). But then it gives an example that muddles up two of those forms: no small wonder.

    Clearly the way those phrases work is to indicate that the amount of wonder/surprise is either none at all or only very little. So their meanings equate to not surprising and hardly surprising. If you negate that concept, you get “not not surprising” (= surprising). Therefore, logically, “no small wonder” should mean surprising.

    Nevertheless, as Chasint’s response shows, people do – rightly or wrongly – sometimes use “no small wonder” to mean “no wonder” or “small wonder”. There’s a lengthy discussion on it here: Language Log » No small wonder
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