spitting distance

Idioms & Phrases

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® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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