in the nick of time

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in the nick of time

At the last possible moment before a deadline or before something begins or ends; just in time. That car moved off the track in the nick of time—another moment and the train would have smashed into it. You got here in the nick of time—we're just about to start the show.
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*in the (very) nick of time

Fig. just in time; at the last possible instant; just before it's too late. (*Typically: arrive ~; get there ~; happen ~; reach something ~; Save someone ~.) The doctor arrived in the nick of time. The patient's life was saved. I reached the airport in the very nick of time and made my flight.
See also: nick, of, time

in the nick of time

Also, just in time. At the last moment, as in The police arrived in the nick of time, or He got there just in time for dinner. The first term began life as in the nick and dates from the 1500s, when nick meant "the critical moment" (a meaning now obsolete). The second employs just in the sense of "precisely" or "closely," a usage applied to time since the 1500s. Also see in time, def. 1.
See also: nick, of, time

in the nick of time

COMMON If something happens in the nick of time, it happens at the last possible moment, when it is almost too late. She woke up just in the nick of time and raised the alarm. They got to the hospital in the nick of time, just as the baby was about to be born.
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in the nick of time

only just in time; just at the critical moment.
Nick is used here in the sense of ‘the precise moment of an occurrence or an event’. This form of the phrase dates from the mid 17th century, but in the (very ) nick is recorded from the late 16th century.
1985 Nini Herman My Kleinian Home Time and again, when all seemed lost, I somehow won through in the nick of time.
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in the ˌnick of ˈtime

(informal) at the last possible moment; just in time: He got to the railway station in the nick of time.He remembered in the nick of time that his passport was in his coat pocket.
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in the nick of time

Just at the critical moment; just in time.
See also: nick, of, time