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hairbreadth

[hair-bredth, -bretth]
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noun, adjective
  1. hairsbreadth.
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Origin of hairbreadth

1400–50; late Middle English heere brede; see hair, breadth

hairsbreadth

[hairz-bredth, -bretth, -breth]
noun
  1. a very small space or distance: We escaped an accident by a hairsbreadth.
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adjective
  1. extremely narrow or close.
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Also hair's-breadth, hairbreadth.

Origin of hairsbreadth

First recorded in 1575–85
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for hairbreadth

Historical Examples

  • Is it a hairbreadth too short to cover the scratch for which you want it?

    The International Monthly, Volume 2, No. 4, March, 1851

    Various

  • I had nearly forgotten what looked like a hairbreadth escape.

    Wild Animals at Home

    Ernest Thompson Seton

  • Every day had its own romance, its hairbreadth escape, its thrilling adventure.

    A Handful of Stars

    Frank W. Boreham

  • There would be plenty of excitement, plenty of hairbreadth escapes.

  • It was a ripe Durian which had fallen from an immense height and missed him by a hairbreadth.

    Blown to Bits

    R.M. Ballantyne


Word Origin and History for hairbreadth

n.

also hairsbreadth, hairs-breadth, hair's breadth, mid-15c., said to have been formerly a formal unit of measure equal to one-forty-eighth of an inch. From hair + breadth.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper