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by a hair's breadth

By an extremely short distance or slim margin of time. They're just about to close the gates! it looks like we made the flight by a hair's breadth. The race was neck and neck till the very end, but Sally won it by a hair's breadth.
See also: breadth

a hair's breadth

a very small distance or amount Enemy forces are within a hair's breadth of the city. We were a hair's breadth away from getting caught. (= we were almost caught)
See also: breadth
References in classic literature ?
That Space, as our mathematicians have it, is spoken of as having three dimensions, which one may call Length, Breadth, and Thickness, and is always definable by reference to three planes, each at right angles to the others.
His immense breadth, his stern composed appearance, and the mode in which he handled his shield and his lance, were enough in themselves to convince the thousands of critical spectators that he was a dangerous opponent.
Often, however, an author introduces a Secondary Action merely for the sake of variety or to increase the breadth of his picture--in order to present a whole section of society instead of one narrow stratum or group.
So, probably, the depth of the ocean will be found to be very inconsiderable compared with its breadth.
Having noticed that the number indicating the greatest depth was apparently in the centre of the map, I laid a rule on the map lengthwise, and then breadthwise, and found, to my surprise, that the line of greatest length intersected the line of greatest breadth exactly at the point of greatest depth, notwithstanding that the middle is so nearly level, the outline of the pond far from regular, and the extreme length and breadth were got by measuring into the coves; and I said to myself, Who knows but this hint would conduct to the deepest part of the ocean as well as of a pond or puddle?
Given, then, the length and breadth of the cove, and the character of the surrounding shore, and you have almost elements enough to make out a formula for all cases.
In order to see how nearly I could guess, with this experience, at the deepest point in a pond, by observing the outlines of a surface and the character of its shores alone, I made a plan of White Pond, which contains about forty-one acres, and, like this, has no island in it, nor any visible inlet or outlet; and as the line of greatest breadth fell very near the line of least breadth, where two opposite capes approached each other and two opposite bays receded, I ventured to mark a point a short distance from the latter line, but still on the line of greatest length, as the deepest.
Such a rule of the two diameters not only guides us toward the sun in the system and the heart in man, but draws lines through the length and breadth of the aggregate of a man's particular daily behaviors and waves of life into his coves and inlets, and where they intersect will be the height or depth of his character.
Thus, the greater the patent breadth, the greater the probability that the incumbent will receive monopoly profits, since the less likely it is that the entrant will succeed in generating a non-infringing process.
Lifestyle entrepreneurs tend to open a business to fulfill a lifelong dream or to follow a particular lifestyle; they contribute to a region's entrepreneurial breadth by increasing the number of firms.
Barbour, in contrast, demonstrates the sheer breadth and richness of the period's religious stocktaking, and he shows how a surprising array of writers were committed to probing the circumstances that comprised and sometimes compromised the Caroline religious experience.
This expanded sales, marketing, and development relationship brings the breadth of Adobe's document services together with the cross functional scalability of IBM software offerings to customers worldwide.
Such breadth makes it possible for the author to demonstrate how a central motif captures new ideas.
This, of course, raises the question of the breadth of the appeal of Sabbatarianism in the nineteenth century.
We measured the breadth (width) and the depth (protrusion) of the incisor arcade of moose, age was determined by counting cementum annuli of incisors.