Helen: Hello, and welcome to The English We Speak. My name is Helen.
Rob: And I'm Rob. Helen, you look like you've been rushing. Here, have some water.
Helen: Oh thanks. I'm a bit out of breath. My appointment at the bank took longer than expected.
Rob: You got here just in the nick of time then.
Helen: Just in the nick of time? Shouldn't it be just in time?
Rob: You can say both. It means at the very last moment. Let's hear how this phrase is used.
Woman 1: Alice gave birth to a baby girl last night.
Woman 2: I thought she wasn't due for another three weeks.
Woman 1: It was early and they got to the hospital just in the nick of time.
Man: Sarah and I were on our way to see Beyonce in concert. But she left her mobile in the office, so we had to go back and get it.
Woman: Did you miss the show?
Man: Thankfully not, we got there just in the nick of time.
Helen: In the first example, we heard one woman got to the hospital just before her baby was born. And in the second example, a couple nearly missed their Beyonce concert.
Rob: That would've been awful. You hear this phrase often used to suggest a disaster had been averted. If the action happened any later, then something awful could happen.
Helen: I see. I have another question – is this phrase a British expression?
Rob: I don't think the phrase 'in the nick of time' is specifically British. It originated from the UK, but English speakers from all over the world use it.
Helen: Let's listen to a few more examples then.
Man: We arrived just in the nick of the time. Another five minutes, our plane would have left without us.
Woman: Sam was experimenting with stir frying last night and the wok caught fire. Luke rushed in with the fire blanket just in the nick of time.
Helen: That was close. Stir frying can get pretty hot sometimes. And it's good that Luke didn't try to put out the fire with water.
Rob: That would have been a catastrophe. So Helen, are you the kind of person who likes to do things at the very last minute?
Helen: Well, I'd like to think of myself as a person who can do things in the nick of time. Thanks for listening. Bye.