In the nick of time

Funky Phrases

If Mary slides into her seat just as the theater lights dim, she might think to herself, “Whew! I made it in the nick of time.” But why does time have a nick in it?

The dictionary defines the noun “nick” as a small notch or groove. As a verb it means to cut into, – he nicked his chin shaving. Or the verb can describe a way of recording a score by means of making a notch in a stick or some other object.

Apparently this last definition is the one most closely associated with time or precision. From ancient times, bones and sticks were notched to help people keep track of things like the number o...


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