near miss

noun
1.
a strike by a missile that is not a direct hit but is close enough to damage the target.
2.
an instance of two vehicles, aircraft, etc., narrowly avoiding a collision.
3.
something that falls narrowly short of its object or of success: an interesting movie, but a near miss.
Also, near-miss.
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World English Dictionary
near miss
 
n
1.  a bomb, shell, etc, that does not exactly hit the target
2.  any attempt or shot that just fails to be successful
3.  an incident in which two vehicles narrowly avoid collision

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

near miss

A narrowly avoided mishap; also, an attempt that falls just short of success. For example, It was a near miss for that truck, since the driver had crossed the center strip into on-coming traffic, or Her horse kept having a near miss in every race, so she decided to sell it. This expression originated during World War II, when it signified a bomb exploding in the water near enough to a ship to damage its hull. Soon afterward it acquired its present meanings.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
It was a near miss and too close a call, but everybody was all right.
The near miss made one thing clear-the group needed a better sanctuary.
There was a near miss with one group launching their pumpkin back up over the
  crowds and landing near the parking lot.
But studying this near miss has concentrated the minds of researchers
  wonderfully.
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