What does the idiom "in the nick of time" mean?

The phrase in the nick of time is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of in the nick of time.

Meaning of "in the nick of time"

Meaning

The idiom 'in the nick of time' means that something happened at the very last moment before it was too late. It typically refers to timing that was so precise that it seemed almost otherworldly.

Etymology

The phrase 'in the nick of time' dates back to the 1500s and was first recorded in literature in 1546. The etymology of the phrase is uncertain, but it is likely derived from 'the nick,' an old British term for the precise moment of time. The 'nick' could also refer to the notch or sharp mark that was made on a counting stick which was used to measure time.

Usage

The phrase 'in the nick of time' is typically used to describe a situation where an individual or situation avoids disaster by performing a task just in time. It is used to describe both actual and near-miss close calls. It can also mean that something arrives right when it is most needed or wanted.

Example Sentences

  • I was able to finish my project in the nick of time before the deadline.
  • He arrived in the nick of time and avoided being arrested.
  • I finished my shopping in the nick of time for the holiday.
  • We finished the house in the nick of time and got to move in before the snow came.

The meanings of the words in the "in the nick of time" idiom

Idioms with similar meaning

"Don't judge a book by its cover" is an English idiom that means you shouldn't make assumptions about someone or something based solely on its appearance. In Japanese, the similar idiom is "Hana yori dango," which translates to "Dumplings rather than flowers." This idiom means that substance is more important than appearance.

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