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at the eleventh hour

At the last possible moment or opportunity. I was shocked that they reached an agreement at the eleventh hour after weeks of squabbling.
See also: eleventh, hour

an eleventh-hour decision

A decision made at the last possible moment or opportunity. I was shocked that they reached an eleventh-hour decision after weeks of squabbling.
See also: decision

at the eleventh hour

Fig. at the last possible moment. (Just before the last clock hour, 12) She always turned her term papers in at the eleventh hour. We don't worry about death until the eleventh hour.
See also: eleventh, hour

eleventh-hour decision

Fig. a decision made very late in a process, or at the last possible moment. Eleventh-hour decisions are seldom satisfactory. The president's eleventh-hour decision was made in a great hurry, but it turned out to be correct.
See also: decision

eleventh hour

The latest possible time, as in We turned in our report at the eleventh hour. This term is thought to allude to the parable of the laborers (Matthew 20:1-16), in which those workers hired at the eleventh hour of a twelve-hour working day were paid the same amount as those who began in the first hour. [Early 1800s]
See also: eleventh, hour

at the eleventh hour

COMMON If something happens at the eleventh hour, it happens at the last possible moment. Some of the exhibitions were cancelled at the eleventh hour. Then, at the eleventh hour, I had an accident that almost stopped me from entering the competition. Note: An eleventh hour decision or action is one that occurs at the last possible moment. This eleventh hour decision came as something of a surprise. The company has sold off 31 social clubs in an eleventh hour deal. Note: This expression comes from the Bible, where Jesus uses it in the story of the labourers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16). In Jesus's time the hours were counted from dawn until dusk, with the twelfth hour bringing darkness, and so the eleventh hour was the last hour before dark.
See also: eleventh, hour

at the eleventh hour

at the latest possible moment.
This expression originally referred to Jesus's parable of the labourers hired right at the end of the day to work in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1–16).
See also: eleventh, hour

the eˌleventh ˈhour

the moment when it is almost, but not quite, too late to do something, avoid something, etc: Our pianist had fallen ill, and then, at the eleventh hour, when we thought we’d have to cancel the performance, Jill offered to replace him. ▶ eˌleventh-ˈhour adj.: an eleventh-hour decision
See also: eleventh, hour
References in classic literature ?
So our poor wanderer went forth, and found all as the night-wind had said; and she plucked the eleventh rod, and smote the dragon, and the lion forthwith became a prince, and the dragon a princess again.
On the eleventh of July, which was Saturday, the manifesto was received but was not yet in print, and Pierre, who was at the Rostovs', promised to come to dinner next day, Sunday, and bring a copy of the manifesto and appeal, which he would obtain from Count Rostopchin.
Ernestine Wendermott travelled back to London in much discomfort, being the eleventh occupant of a third-class carriage in a particularly unpunctual and dilatory train.
These old Irish manuscripts are perhaps none of them older than the eleventh century, but the stories are far, far older.
That book has long been lost, and this copy of it was made in the eleventh century.
Also the eleventh and twelfth are both excellent, alike for shearing sheep and for reaping the kindly fruits; but the twelfth is much better than the eleventh, for on it the airy-swinging spider spins its web in full day, and then the Wise One (42), gathers her pile.
The eleventh day of the month of December was drawing to a close in a magnificent night.
In the next chapter I shall consider the geological succession of organic beings throughout time; in the eleventh and twelfth, their geographical distribution throughout space; in the thirteenth, their classification or mutual affinities, both when mature and in an embryonic condition.
Anglo-Saxon Prose, of the West Saxon Period, tenth and eleventh centuries, beginning with King Alfred, 871-901.
Sophia never had a single dispute with her father, till this unlucky affair of Blifil, on any account, except in defence of her mother, whom she had loved most tenderly, though she lost her in the eleventh year of her age.
The adventures of the Yellow Diamond begin with the eleventh century of the Christian era.
Fairlie as a species of credential which might be useful to her, and started by herself for the Asylum on the eleventh of October.
Eleventh Avenue is a wholly owned subsidiary of Activar Properties, Inc.
UPS), 6/20/01, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that UPS's restructuring plan of its excess-value business had both economic substance and a business purpose, and had to be respected for tax purposes.
Mother signed a 10-year lease for all three floors of 595 Eleventh Avenue, located between 44th and 45th Streets on Manhattan's West Side.