a short space or distance
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
Idioms and Phrases with spitting distance
A very short distance, as in We were in spitting distance of winning the pennant but then we lost three games in a row. Alluding to the relatively short distance over which one's spit will carry, this idiom was first recorded in 1895 as within spitting range.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.