Robinson

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faster than you can say Jack Robinson

Extremely quickly; almost immediately; suddenly or in a very short space of time. Once I'm finished with high school, I'll be outta this two-bit town faster than you can say Jack Robinson! I was out fishing one day when, faster than you can say Jack Robinson, a 20-pound trout jumped out of the water and right into my lap!
See also: can, faster, jack, Robinson, say

quicker than you can say Jack Robinson

Extremely quickly; almost immediately; suddenly or in a very short space of time. Once I'm finished with high school, I'll be outta this two-bit town quicker than you can say Jack Robinson! I was out fishing one day when, quicker than you can say Jack Robinson, a 20-pound trout jumped out of the water and right into my lap!
See also: can, jack, quicker, Robinson, say

before you can say Jack Robinson

 and quicker than you can say Jack Robinson
Fig. almost immediately. (Often found in children's stories.) And before you could say Jack Robinson, the bird flew away. I'll catch a plane and be there quicker than you can say Jack Robinson.
See also: before, can, jack, Robinson, say

Heath Robinson

  (British)
if a machine or system is Heath Robinson, it is very complicated in a way that is funny, but not practical or effective
Usage notes: Heath Robinson was an English artist who drew strange, complicated machines that could do simple jobs.
My granny's got this great Heath Robinson device for slicing eggs.
See also: Robinson

before you can say Jack Robinson

  (old-fashioned)
if you say that something happens before you can say Jack Robinson, it happens very suddenly I offered her a chocolate but before you could say Jack Robinson she'd eaten half the box.
See also: before, can, jack, Robinson, say

before you can say Jack Robinson

Also, quicker than you can say Jack Robinson. Almost immediately, very soon, as in I'll finish this book before you can say Jack Robinson. This expression originated in the 1700s, but the identity of Jack Robinson has been lost. Grose's Classical Dictionary (1785) said he was a man who paid such brief visits to acquaintances that there was scarcely time to announce his arrival before he had departed, but it gives no further documentation. A newer version is before you know it, meaning so soon that you don't have time to become aware of it (as in He'll be gone before you know it).
See also: before, can, jack, Robinson, say