Hello and welcome to The Everyday Language Podcast for English Learners. This is Mark. Today’s phrase is “in the nick of time”.
This is a phrase that means you get somewhere just in time before it is too late.
Therefore, you use this idiom when you want to say; you complete whatever you are doing just in time.
You hand in your homework just in the nick of time.
That means that you hand in the homework just before the deadline is over, in the last moments.
Or, if you are going somewhere, say you hav-you have to catch the train, but you are running late, you know, you are behind schedule, and you think that the train might leave before you can get on it.
If you do manage to make it and you do get on the train, then you catch the train just in the nick of time.
This idiom is also used to express relief when someone has been saved from a dangerous situation.
Here’s an example:
Fire chief happens upon crash, rescues driver in nick of time
So in that example, which is from a newspaper (click here for the original source). A fire chief finds someone in a car crash and manages to rescue the driver just before…you know, maybe the car explodes or something.
I want to explain a little more about the word “nick”. So nick as in the nick of time, nick usually refers to a small cut on a surface or an edge.
For example, you can say that an iPhone has a small nick on the screen. Meaning there is a small cut on the phone’s screen.
In cricket, if you hit the ball on the edge of the bat, then we say the batsman has nicked the ball.
The thing to remember with [a] nick is that a nick is a very small thing.
Therefore if you get somewhere in the nick of time or you do something in the nick of time, you arrive just in time [or you complete something just in the nick of time].
If you want an easy to use reference dictionary about English idioms, this is my recommendation:
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Thank you to Setuniman and Tristan Lohengrin.
Intro music: Happy by Setuniman, see his work on Pond5.com Royalty free licence
Outro music: Accordion improvisation by Tristan Lohengrin
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