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Before you can say jack robinson

Also, quicker than you can say Jack Robinson. Almost immediately, very soon, as in I’ll finish this book before you can say Jack Robinson. This expression originated in the 1700s, but the identity of Jack Robinson has been lost. Grose’s Classical Dictionary (1785) said he was a man who paid such brief visits to acquaintances that there was scarcely time to announce his arrival before he had departed, but it gives no further documentation. A newer version is before you know it, meaning so soon that you don’t have time to become aware of it (as in He’ll be gone before you know it).


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  • Before you know it

    see under before you can say Jack Robinson

  • Before-hand

    in anticipation; in advance; ahead of time: We should have made reservations beforehand. I hope to be beforehand with my report. Historical Examples I didn’t mean to let any one see it before-hand, but you are a dear old thing, and you shall. The Green Satin Gown Laura E. Richards He shows all to Forster […]

  • Beforementioned

    adjective already or previously mentioned; aforementioned Historical Examples The slaves are taken, as beforementioned, from cotton and tobacco, and are furnished by the Southern States. The American Quarterly Review, No. 17, March 1831 Various Their sea voyage terminated as beforementioned, on the 8th of August, by their actually entering that river. The Mirror of Literature, […]

  • Befouled

    to make dirty or filthy; soil; defile; sully: a bird that befouls its own nest. Historical Examples All commingled, so that the uncleanness of one befouled all, and the wickedness of one contaminated all. Charles Sumner; his complete works, volume 1 (of 20) Charles Sumner Marry, thy jerkin is all befouled with the dust of […]

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