by a hair/whisker

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.
See also: by, hair

by a whisker

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 whisker. The race was neck and neck till the very end, but Sally won it by a whisker.
See also: by, whisker
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

by a hair/whisker

Very narrowly, by a very small distance or amount. For example, “He missed sideswiping that car by a hair,” or “That ball was in, but just by a whisker.” Both versions of this cliché allude to the fineness of a single hair. The first, also put as by a hairbreadth, dates from the fourteenth century, whereas the second originated in early twentieth-century America.
See also: by, hair, whisker
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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