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.
See also: nick, of, time

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
References in classic literature ?
I mean that this Indian comes just in the nick of time.
At his side fights a huge Martian war-hound, nor did I need a second look to know that it was Woola--my faithful Woola who had thus well performed his arduous task and brought the succoring legions in the nick of time.
The doctor came in the nick of time, and soon brought her to.
It came into my mind in the nick of time, how Columbus, or Cortez, or one of those people, played an eclipse as a saving trump once, on some savages, and I saw my chance.
She was horrified to think how near she had come to being guilty herself; she had been saved in the nick of time by a revival in the colored Methodist Church, a fortnight before, at which time and place she "got religion.
Our medical guide, philosopher, and friend is like the hero in a melodrama--he always comes upon the scene just, and only just, in the nick of time.
Fortunately for me, my father lost a lawsuit just in the nick of time, and was obliged to scrape together every farthing of available money that he possessed to pay for the luxury of going to law.
German Socialism forgot, in the nick of time, that the French criticism, whose silly echo it was, presupposed the existence of modern bourgeois society, with its corresponding economic conditions of existence, and the political constitution adapted thereto, the very things whose attainment was the object of the pending struggle in Germany.