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In the nick of time

Posted by ESC on June 09, 2005

In Reply to: In the nick of time posted by Mike on June 09, 2005

: Do you know the origin of the phrase "in the nick of time"?

That's what Mr. Funk says. Maybe people pre wrist watches used a stick to mark time? "in the nick of time - It means, of course, at the critical or precise moment; just at the instant when our hero was saved at the last moment from onrushing death, for example. The expression about three centuries old, formed when someone added the redundant 'of time' to the older expression, 'in the nick,' which meant the same thing. A nick is a groove, a notch, as made with a sharp knife when one cuts a V in a stick of wood. Nothing could express precision more accurately than a notch so formed, especially when applied to time." From A Hog on Ice by Charles Earle Funk (1948, Harper & Row)

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