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the eleventh hour
The last possible moment or opportunity. Can be hyphenated if used as a modifier before a noun. I was shocked that they reached an agreement at the eleventh hour after weeks of squabbling. I was shocked that they reached an eleventh-hour decision after weeks of squabbling.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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]
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.
eleventh hour, at the
Just in time; at the last possible moment. This expression occurs in the biblical parable of the laborers (Matthew 20:1–16), in which those workers hired at the eleventh hour of a twelve-hour day received as much pay as those who began work in the first hour. Eric Partridge claimed that the current cliché does not allude to this story but offered no alternative source. The American poet Forceythe Willson (1837–67) wrote, “And I heard a Bugle sounding, as from some celestial Tower; and the same mysterious voice said: ‘It is the Eleventh Hour!’” (“The Old Sergeant”). The armistice ending World War I came into force at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
See also: eleventh
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer