split second

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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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
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 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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
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.
And, in the space of a split second, life had been reduced from a highly complex existence, with a thousand petty problems, to one of the barest simplicities in which only one real task remained - ensuring a soft landing on the North Pole."
Maybe, just maybe, for one split second, every warrior had empathy for his enemy, every husband and wife--for but a fraction of a breath--did not fight, every child stopped crying.
Then in a split second I knew what it was all about "I don't bloody care" I heard myself shout I raced to my room And started to cry My head was exploding God I wanted to die It suddenly made sense All those painful years A real dad would have been different I thought through my tears It toughened me up I grew up real fast It made me so bitter But thank god, that didn't last I would really have liked To have had a "real dad" But I learned not to miss Something I just never had by Frank Byrne, Widnes
It was a split second when I realised I had left it there while helping my elderly mother with her shopping.
The boys' family yesterday told how their world had been turned upside down in a split second. They also paid tribute to four-year-old Arsalaan and Adnan, 10, describing them as adorable children with permanent grins.
A woman who was caught on CCTV dumping a cat in a wheelie bin said today she was "profoundly sorry" for what she described as "a split second of misjudgment".
And it can take only a split second to decide if a person is likely to cause trouble.
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?
Dubai: Shaikha Maitha Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum says a split second could be the difference between success and failure.
Stan James cannot split second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and fourth seed Jelena Jankovic, who meet today with a place in the final up for grabs.
Leon Haslam beat the rain showers to eclipse title rival Ryuichi Kiyonari by a split second in opening practice at the final round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch.
One-time Newcastle United junior Ryan McGuffie lived up to his nickname for a split second when his penalty was saved by Hearts keeper Craig Gordon in the Scottish Cup final.
and you need to know where the nearest ATM is or where a bank is open on the weekend, you can find it in a split second." said Menin.
You see each "scene" only for a split second before the lights illuminating the performers are turned off, which creates a sudden dramatic fade to black.