We have the nick meaning prison, as in "he served time in the nick", then we have the verb to nick, meaning to steal; but if the police catch you red-handed, then "you've been nicked". And if you led a very bad life you could end up meeting with Old Nick, which as we all know is the Devil's nickname or nick 1 . And before I forget, Nick is also short for Nicholas.
If, however, something is in good nick 2 it's usually in admirable condition, but if we spot a few nicks on a porcelain ornament we consider it damaged and we might choose not to buy it. Be careful handling it though, the edges might be sharp and nick your skin.
I can see how the different meanings of nick 3 are related to one another in the examples above, but what escapes me is how did nick come to mean the last critical moment of time.
She was saved in the nick of time
Was her death stolen away? Does the nick here mean a small chip, a notch or a very small but significantly sharp edge of time that allowed her to be rescued? Or maybe, historically speaking, nick was a measure of time? Is the idiomatic expression, I wonder, "to be in time" related?
Can anyone shed any light? Thank you.