Why do we say "In the nick of time"?

Well-Known Expressions

In the nick of time

Meaning:

Just in time

Background:

It seems that this expression dates back to early sporting events in which the score was notched into wooden sticks called tallies.  When a last minute score brought victory it came to be known as the "nick in time".

The first recorded use of the word nick meaning "the precise moment" is in the 1570s, and appears to have been a relatively common expression by the late sixteenth century. Nick of time is first recorded in the 17th century.

Alphabetical list of expressions

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