by a hair

(redirected from by a hairbreadth)

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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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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References in periodicals archive ?
TOKYO - Aderans Co.'s anti-takeover defense was approved Thursday at its general shareholders meeting by a hairbreadth margin, brushing aside opposition from its biggest shareholder, U.S.
She missed doing so by a hairbreadth. While Blunt escaped ranching through divorce and built for herself the life she craved, her life on the range of Montana inexorably shaped her.
The Nikkei escaped by a hairbreadth from dipping below 12,000 Wednesday, closing at 12,005.11, in all-day selling triggered by a Wall Street plunge Tuesday.