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Related to whisker: Cat whisker
Something or someone that is highly enjoyable, desirable, or impressive, especially in a fancy or elaborate way. Tom's new Cadillac is really the cat's whiskers! Boy, that singer last night was the cat's whiskers, wasn't she?
be the cat's whiskers
To be highly enjoyable, desirable, or impressive, especially in a fancy or elaborate way. Tom's new Cadillac is really the cat's whiskers! Boy, that singer last night was the cat's whiskers, wasn't she?
by a hair
By an extremely short or slim margin (of distance, time, or another measure). They're just about to close the gates! It looks like we made the flight by a hair. The race was neck and neck till the very end, but Sally won it by a hair.
by a whisker
By an extremely short or slim margin (of distance, time, or another measure). They're just about to close the gates! It looks like we made the flight by a whisker. The race was neck and neck till the very end, but Sally won it by a whisker.
come within a whisker of (something)
To almost get, achieve, or experience something. She came within a whisker of the gold medal, but her leg cramped in the last few meters. Hundreds of people came within a whisker of death when their apartment building caught on fire in the middle of the night.
within a whisker of (something)
Very close to something. I swear the car came within a whisker of hitting the train, but stopped at the last second. I came within a whisker of winning that race, but I guess I'll have to settle for second place.
by a hair('s breadth)and by a whisker
Fig. just barely; by a very small distance. I just missed getting on the plane by a hair's breadth. I made it onto the last flight by a hair!
win by a nose
Fig. to win by the slightest amount of difference. (Can be literal in horses races.) I ran the fastest race I could, but I only won by a nose. Sally won the race, but she only won by a nose.
by a hair
Also, by a hairbreadth or whisker . Very narrowly. For example, His serve was out by a hair, or We made our flight by a hairbreadth, or Dad missed hitting the pole by a whisker. The first two hyperboles for the very narrowest margin date from the 1300s and 1400s respectively; whisker meaning "a small amount" was first recorded in 1913. Also see by the skin of one's teeth; hang by a hair.
win by a nose
Also, win by a whisker. Just barely succeed, as in Sally's political cartoon came in first in the contest, but I heard that she won by a nose . This term comes from horseracing, where from about 1900 on it referred to a finish so close that only a portion of the horse's nose reached the finish ahead of the second horse. A whisker-that is, a hair-is a narrower margin yet. [Second half of 1900s]
the cat's whiskersor
the cat's pyjamasBRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
If you describe someone or something as the cat's whiskers or the cat's pyjamas, you mean they are the best person or thing of their kind. She had this great dress on with huge skirts, and she thought she was the cat's whiskers as she walked into the room. We critics variously declared the show brilliant, the cat's pyjamas, breathtaking, and unmissable. Note: These expressions were originally American and became popular in Britain during the 1920s. `Cat's whisker' was also the name of a fine wire in a crystal wireless receiver.
by a whisker
If you succeed or fail to do something by a whisker, you succeed or fail, but only just. The French government only scraped a Yes vote by a whisker. At the end we lost by a whisker and we were so disappointed.
come within a whisker of something
COMMON If you come within a whisker of doing something, you almost do it. He came within a whisker of scoring the most spectacular goal. Meanwhile, Guccione came within a whisker of losing his mansion. Note: You can also say that someone is within a whisker of doing something. The two firms are within a whisker of agreeing a deal. Yet Miller had been within a whisker of being sacked.
within a whisker of something
If something is within a whisker of a particular amount, it is almost that amount. The price of gold is now within a whisker of $330 an ounce.
the cat's whiskersan excellent person or thing. informal
Other similar phrases include the cat's pyjamas and the chiefly North American the cat's miaou .
have (or have grown) whiskers (especially of a story) be very old. informal
within a whisker ofextremely close or near to doing, achieving, or suffering something. informal
the cat’s ˈwhiskers/pyˈjamas(informal, often ironic) the best person, idea, thing, etc: She thinks she’s the cat’s whiskers.
be, come, etc. within a whisker of something/of doing something(British English) almost do something: They came within a whisker of being killed.
do something by a ˈwhisker(informal) do something, but nearly fail; do something, but only just: He missed the first prize by a whisker. ♢ You escaped serious injury by a whisker, so consider yourselves very lucky.
Mr. Whiskersand Uncle Whiskers and whiskers (man)
n. a federal agent. (Underworld. From the whiskers of Uncle Sam.) Mr. Whiskers is trying to get me to pay tax on those few bucks. If Uncle Whiskers finds out what you’re doing, you’re done for.
See also: Whisker