close call

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close call

1. A narrow escape from or avoidance of a situation, often an unfavorable or dangerous one. It was a close call, but I managed to avoid hitting the deer that ran directly in front of my car.
2. A decision or judgment that is difficult to make due to each possibility being nearly equal in one's consideration. I'm sorry, it really was a close call, but we've decided to go with another candidate for this position.
3. A contest or competition whose winner is not clear due to very close competition or results that are difficult to distinguish. With the two candidates having nearly equal amounts of delegates, this election is going to be a very close call.
See also: call, close
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

close call

Also, close shave. Narrow escape, near miss. For example, That skier just missed the tree-what a close call, or That was a close shave, nearly leaving your passport behind. The first phrase dates from the late 1800s and comes from sports, alluding to an official's decision ( call) that could have gone either way. The second, from the early 1800s, alludes to the narrow margin between closely shaved skin and a razor cut. (This latter usage replaced the much earlier equation of a close shave with miserliness, based on the idea that a close shave by a barber meant one would not have to spend money on another shave quite so soon.) Also see too close for comfort.
See also: call, close
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.

a close call


a close thing

COMMON If you describe an event as a close call or a close thing, you mean that someone very nearly had an accident or disaster, or very nearly suffered a defeat. `That was a close call,' said Bess, as the boat steadied. It was a close thing and, looking back now, I have no doubt that if my friend hadn't acted so promptly, I'd be dead.
See also: call, close
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a ˌclose ˈshave/ˈcall

(informal) a situation where a disaster, an accident, etc. almost happens: We didn’t actually hit the other car, but it was a close shave.Phew! That was a close call — she nearly saw us!
See also: call, close, shave
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

close call

See also: call, close
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

close call/shave, a

A narrow escape, a near miss. Both phrases are originally American. The first dates from the 1880s and is thought to come from sports, where a close call was a decision by an umpire or referee that could have gone either way. A close shave is from the early nineteenth century and reflects the narrow margin between smoothly shaved skin and a nasty cut from the razor. Both were transferred to mean any narrow escape from danger. Incidentally, a close shave was in much earlier days equated with miserliness. Erasmus’s 1523 collection of adages has it, “He shaves right to the quick,” meaning he makes the barber give him a very close shave so that he will not need another for some time. Two synonymous modern clichés are too close for comfort and too close to home.
See also: call, close
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in classic literature ?
Close behind him were two more--fifty yards perhaps--but the distance gave me time to snatch up the dead guardsman's shield, for the close call his hatchet had just given me had borne in upon me the urgent need I had for one.
"Now we are safe," I said, "but it was a close call -- so to speak.
He approached the Heliumite without sign of fear, and when quite close called out the cheery Barsoomian "kaor" of greeting.
You had a close call tonight, Rokoff; do not tempt fate a second time."
To close it and to have the pump started that would empty it were the work of but a minute; but we had had a close call.
'Twas a close call for the old Tryapsic I'm tellun' ye.
'What can we do when we see those close calls? We don't have a challenge system.
Much has been written through the years about close calls, hazardous conditions, and sentinel events.
It is the latest scare to emerge in a series of close calls between airliners and drones in our air space.
The footage will be shown on BBC One programme, Close Calls: On Camera presented by Nick Knowles this morning.
The 35 - 39 call spreads opens a new bullish position and the 37.5 calls likely close calls from 4/9 when buyers paid $1.90 to open 3K.
Physician leaders can have real impact by instituting formal scrutiny of close calls, encouraging skepticism, flatter hierarchies and "devil's advocate" challenges, and eliminating fault-finding in favor of permanent, physical improvements, he said.
A look back at how we did with our Hotlist, several close calls on primary night could yield recounts and Ted Cruz reports a big February fundraising haul - all that and more in the latest issue of our subscriber-only newsletter for political insiders ($).
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JUBA, South Sudan -- Close calls with crocodiles, a brutal civil war and even the death of a fellow traveler have not deterred a British man from attempting to walk the length of the Nile River.