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spitting distance

a short space or distance
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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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 Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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