near miss

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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