by a hair

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Related to hairbreadth: hair's breadth, hairsbreadth

by a hair

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

 and by a whisker
Fig. just barely; by a very small distance. I just missed getting on the plane by a hair's breadth. I made it onto the last flight by a hair!
See also: by, hair

by a hair

Also, by a hairbreadth or whisker . Very narrowly. For example, His serve was out by a hair, or We made our flight by a hairbreadth, or Dad missed hitting the pole by a whisker. The first two hyperboles for the very narrowest margin date from the 1300s and 1400s respectively; whisker meaning "a small amount" was first recorded in 1913. Also see by the skin of one's teeth; hang by a hair.
See also: by, hair
References in periodicals archive ?
When Clinton came within a hairbreadth of winning the popular vote, but the superdelegates went in a wave with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recommendations rather than their constituents', I was beyond disappointed.
What follows is a series of adventures, culminating in a hairbreadth escape for Renard after he once again dupes his archnemesis Ysengrin.
In fact, Johnny's buck came within a hairbreadth of becoming the largest typical whitetail ever taken
In 1983, the nations came within a hairbreadth of nuclear war, but the Chernobyl explosion changed everything.
The latest survey carried out for the Electoral Commission shows that people agree by a margin of 4 to 1 that devolution has improved the way Wales is run - a massive turnaround from the hairbreadth majority of 1997.
Doing it seemed to taunt disaster, as leaning a hairbreadth too far in either direction could be curtains for him.
As Titus points out, the biography is pertinent because "throughout Porter's texts, the fictive 'she' is always a hairbreadth away from the 'I'" (182).
McCausland had a 33-year career at the Post-Intelligencer, where his Hairbreadth Husky - with a bandaged nose and fedora - chronicled the ups and downs of University of Washington football from 1960 to 1982.
Like a junior James Bond, Alex is bold, brave, and cool under pressure, and his life is full of thrilling hairbreadth escapes.
The KMT's hairbreadth victory in the election underscored the substantial decline of its hegemonic status and the close result of the election encouraged further cooperation between the opposition parties.
Dennehy's Tyrone appears massive and protective, but a hairbreadth away from hurtful.
The Igbo nation have always lived in a world of continual struggle, motion and change," Achebe asserts, "a feature conspicuous in the tautness, overreach and torsion of their art; it is like a tightrope walk, a hairbreadth brush with the boundaries of anarchy.
Cuban coffee, jet-fuel strong and infused with enough sugar to sweeten it to within a hairbreadth of syrup, is a way of life in Little Havana.
There's a new kind of crisis daily, at least three James Bondthrillers' worth of hairbreadth escapes and awful tests of courage and physical endurance.