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 ?
Then, in a split-second, he can shift the ball and hit it.
Decisions in battle have the same sort of split-second timing.
Summary: A movement with exceptional features contained in a case of classic elegance, created using the most noble of materials: Officine Panerai presents the Luminor 1950 8 Days Rattrapante Pink Gold 47 mm, a chronograph of outstanding technical and aesthetic prestige, produced in a numbered edition of 300 and equipped with the new Manifattura P.2006 split-seconds chronograph calibre.
Improved optimization and an intuitive touch screen keep operators in complete control With a split-second cycle time, the Talon's speed and accuracy will keep the most ambitious pilers hard at task all day long, the company adds.
I had to make a split-second decision...either slam on the brakes and risk jack-knifing my load or move across.
That picture ended up in the New York Post, and you could even see a split-second video of it on the Jimmy Kimmel Live website.
A transient species that seldom stays put long enough to be studied carefully, the Honch is a self-important bird that makes grand, sweeping, split-second appearances non-stop through all conference facilities, including lobbies and corridors.
For their split-second decisions during their 15-minute pursuit of the drug smuggler, the two agents were convicted in a trial where important evidence was withheld from the jury, and where the dubious testimony of the smuggler, who was granted immunity by the U.S.
That extra split-second is the difference when you play against Premiership players.
Police made a split-second decision not to shoot him - despite the risk he might blow himself up and them with him - but instead immobilised him with a Taser gun.
Rachel Rutherford and Edwaard Liang, the first principal couple, danced with quiet urgency, Rutherford holding split-second poses against the music's flow.
Interconnected brain areas that use split-second timing to interpret new information suffer a communication breakdown in people with schizophrenia, a new study suggests.
Split-second milligram range weighing is possible for industrial applications, optimizing the use of valuable materials and reducing cycle time, which minimizes downtime.
However, a 180-degree turn right when returning would momentarily place his back to the play and cost him a split-second loss of vision.
And the timing needed to go from the transition to vertical to maneuver, landing, transition to the next wall and the next maneuver is split-second. The best skaters in the world are able to adapt to circumstances that happen during an intense ride.