What Does the Expression “In the Nick of Time” Mean and Where Did the Idiom Come From?

The nick is a cut or notch made on a piece of wood.

During medieval times, long before punch-in time clocks or other methods of modern tabulation, attendance, especially at schools and church services, was registered with a nick on a personalized stick of wood.

If someone failed to show up on time, no nick was recorded, for which there would be suitable punishment.

When we arrive at the last minute, we say we got there just in “the nick of time”.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

1 thought on “What Does the Expression “In the Nick of Time” Mean and Where Did the Idiom Come From?”

  1. …i suppose the phrase;
    ‘in good nick’
    could also come from this?
    Good nick could be referring to a good tally/etc?

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