Posted by: episystechpubs | November 13, 2012

Editor’s Corner: Time Keeps on Slipping…

Time flies when you’re having fun! Reading this sampling of time idioms from should fly by. (To see additional terms visit:

1. Banker’s hours: A relatively short duration (from the onetime tradition that banks were open for a limited number of hours compared to other businesses; therefore, one who keeps banker’s hours has a light work schedule)

2. Bat/wink/twinkling of an eye: variations of an idiom referring to a period of time so brief that it passes while one’s eyelid moves

3. Eleventh hour: occurring late in a given time frame (from the fact that the eleventh hour is the last in the day before midnight)

4. Flash: an instant (from the fact that a flash of flame is short lived)

5. Jiffy: an instant (perhaps from slang for lightning); also shortened to jiff [KC – “Jiffy…perhaps from slang for lightening”? Huh? More information please. Here is what I found as far as an etymology:
1785, "a moment, an instant," colloquial, origin unknown; said to be originally thieves’ slang for "lightning."

<![if !supportLists]>6. New York minute: a brief time (from the notion that minutes in the hectic milieu of New York City pass more quickly than those in more relaxed locales)

7. Small hours: the early morning (from the low numbers on the clock that indicate the time during that period) [KC – Never heard “small” hours. Maybe this is a regional thing? We always referred to the “wee” hours.]

8. Split second: a fraction of a second (from the notion that a second can be split, or subdivided); a split is also a fraction of the total elapsed time for a race

9. Trice: a short period of time (from a word meaning “pull”); often seen in the phrase “in a trice”

10. Witching hour: midnight or the middle of the night (with the connotation that unsettling or unusual things happen then, from the superstition that witches are about at that time)

Kara Church

Senior Technical Editor

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