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photo finish

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noun Sports.
  1. a finish of a race in which two or more contestants are so close to the finish line that reference to a photograph of the finish is necessary to determine the winner.
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Origin of photo finish

First recorded in 1935–40
Related formspho·to-fin·ish, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for photo finish

photo finish

noun
  1. a finish of a race in which contestants are so close that a photograph is needed to decide the result
  2. any race or competition in which the winners or placed contestants are separated by a very small margin
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012