split second

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

split second

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.
See also: second, split

*split second

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.
See also: second, split

split second

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]
See also: second, split

a ˌsplit ˈsecond

a 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
See also: second, split
References in periodicals archive ?
It was that split second which let me down because up until that point, I was boxing very well.
When Amoco opened its first Split Second store two years ago, it was betting that the emphasis on ambiance and maximum freshness in full-service deli, salads, soups, pizza and baked goods would help them shed the typical "pit stop" image of convenience retailing and fast food.
Results revealed the estimates correlated highly with the actual aggressive behaviour of the men - even if they only saw the picture for a split second.
As for making it a deterrent to stop this happening again, well I would ask one question - from now on, will it stop every one of us taking their eye off the road for a split second to answer their mobile phone, change the CD or search for a cigarette?
He's just a split second away, and once that has happened he will score a lot.
You have a split second to make a decision about whether to pick up a fare.
Xavier Veilhan is an inventor of inventions, an artist-engineer who seeks the split second just after creation, the fragile moment of hesitation when anything is possible.
Pull the trigger on a revolver and the hammer draws back for a split second before slamming forward.
How does a horse know to jump, lifting all four legs off the ground, in a split second of light that flashes across the dark water?
Split Second was topically set in 2008 when climate change had flooded the streets of London.