- a small notch, groove, chip, or the like, cut into or existing in something.
- a hollow place produced in an edge or surface, as of a dish, by breaking, chipping, or the like: I didn't notice those tiny nicks in the vase when I bought it.
- a small dent or wound.
- a small groove on one side of the shank of a printing type, serving as a guide in setting or to distinguish different types.
- Biochemistry. a break in one strand of a double-stranded DNA or RNA molecule.
- British Slang. prison.
- to cut into or through: I nicked my chin while shaving.
- to hit or injure slightly.
- to make a nick or nicks in (something); notch, groove, or chip.
- to record by means of a notch or notches.
- to incise certain tendons at the root of (a horse's tail) to give it a higher carrying position; make an incision under the tail of (a horse).
- to hit, guess, catch, etc., exactly.
- Slang. to trick, cheat, or defraud: How much did they nick you for that suit?
- British Slang.
- to arrest (a criminal or suspect).
- to capture; nab.
- to steal: Someone nicked her pocketbook on the bus.
- in the nick of time, at the right or vital moment, usually at the last possible moment: The fire engines arrived in the nick of time.
Origin of nick
- a small notch or indentation on an edge or surface
- a groove on the shank of a printing type, used to orientate type and often to distinguish the fount
- British a slang word for prison, police station
- in good nick informal in good condition
- in the nick of time at the last possible moment; at the critical moment
- (tr) to chip or cut
- (tr) slang, mainly British
- to steal
- to take into legal custody; arrest
- (intr often foll by off) informal to move or depart rapidly
- to divide and reset (certain of the tail muscles of a horse) to give the tail a high carriage
- (tr) to guess, catch, etc, exactly
- (intr) (of breeding stock) to mate satisfactorily
- nick someone for US and Canadian slang to defraud someone to the extent of
- computing an alias adopted by a member of a chatroom or forum; nickname
Word Origin and History for in the nick of time
1520s, "to make a notch in," from nick (n.). Sense of "to steal" is from 1869, probably from earlier slang sense of "to catch, take unawares, arrest" (1620s). The precise sense connection is unclear. Related: Nicked; nicking.
masc. proper name, familiar form of Nicholas. As "the devil" by 1640s, but the reason for it is obscure.
"notch, groove, slit," late 15c., nyke, of unknown origin, possibly influenced by Middle French niche (see niche), or from it. Nick of time is first attested 1640s (nick of opportunity is 1610s), possibly from an old custom of recording time as it passed by making notches on a tally stick, though nick in the general sense of "critical moment" is older (1570s, Hanmer, who adds "as commonly we say") than the phrase.
Idioms and Phrases with in the nick of time
in the nick of time
Also, just in time. At the last moment, as in The police arrived in the nick of time, or He got there just in time for dinner. The first term began life as in the nick and dates from the 1500s, when nick meant “the critical moment” (a meaning now obsolete). The second employs just in the sense of “precisely” or “closely,” a usage applied to time since the 1500s. Also see in time, def. 1.
see in the nick of time.