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Not even a full second of time; an instant. Hyphenated if used as a modifier before a noun. There was only a split second separating the top two competitors in the race. It was a split-second decision that undoubtedly saved hundreds of lives. It was heartbreaking to see the entire building reduced to rubble in a split second.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
an instant; a tiny period of time. (*Typically: for ~; in ~.) The lightning struck, and in a split second the house burst into flames. For a split second, it looked like she would fall.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
An instant, a fraction of a second, as in Our best swimmer came in a split second before theirs. This expression alludes to a stop watch that has two second hands, one above the other, for timing more than one athlete or intervals of a race by a single athlete. Each hand can be stopped independently of the other, so a second can be "split" when one second hand stops a fraction of a second after the other. [c. 1880]
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 ˌsplit ˈseconda very short time: I heard a loud explosion and a split second later I was on the floor. ▶ ˌsplit-ˈsecond adj.: split-second timing/reactions
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