I want to know if there is such a phrase. What I mean is doing something "over the course of a night", but of course it doesn't have to be that short.

I think it could have something to do with things which ended unexpectedly fast, you did it in unbelieveably short period of time. This is a phrase from another language, I didn't want to translate it in a plain way. I hope there is something similar in English.

  • 4
    Damn that was fast
    – CDM
    Feb 29, 2016 at 15:26
  • Some more details could help. How formal should it end up sounding? What sort of phrase/part of speach should it be. "I blinked and he was done." would be informal, descriptive, and conversational, for example.
    – The Nate
    Feb 29, 2016 at 16:25
  • 1
    One-minute man.
    – A.S.
    Feb 29, 2016 at 18:30
  • as @Sphero states in his answer, overnight is used the exact same way in American English at least. "He/She was an overnight success" means they had success extremely quickly and sometimes implies that it was unexpected by the speaker.
    – user10126
    Mar 1, 2016 at 6:30
  • Jarrod you're right. It was a political context, let's say to overthrow some seemingly strong government, or destroy a system, that kind of situation, but to do it in a matter of days, contrary to expectations. My bad I didn't provide details, but I ''overnight'' seems like a good choice.
    – sinon1
    Mar 1, 2016 at 13:43

7 Answers 7


Overnight is a perfectly idiomatic term for something that is completed much faster than expected (and, of course, something that would be expected to take much longer than one day).

For example: "Popular support for the war crumbled overnight, once the government's deception was revealed".

  • +1 And it often has the implication of while we slept.
    – bib
    Feb 29, 2016 at 19:29
  • 6
    “An overnight success is ten years in the making.” - Tom Clancy
    – NVZ
    Feb 29, 2016 at 19:29
  • Well, thank you, I was thinking about this solution, and once you put it in pretty similar context compared to mine, I think it could fit nicely.
    – sinon1
    Mar 1, 2016 at 13:39

If you want an idiomatic term, you could use lickety-split

With great speed.

American Heritage


In a flash.

Also, in a jiffy or second or trice . Quickly, immediately. For example, I'll be with you in a flash, or He said he'd be done in a jiffy, or I'll be off the phone in a second, or I felt a drop or two, and in a trice there was a downpour. The first idiom alludes to a flash of lightning and dates from about 1800. The word jiffy, meaning "a short time," is of uncertain origin and dates from the late 1700s (as does the idiom using it); a second, literally one-sixtieth of a minute, has been used vaguely to mean "a very short time" since the early 1800s; and trice originally meant "a single pull at something" and has been used figuratively since the 1500s.

in a flash


If overnight isn't fast enough for you, consider in the blink of an eye.  It can be used in a fairly literal sense:

There was a huge "boom" and in the blink of an eye the buildings were gone.

or figuratively:

There was an empty lot down the road, and, in the blink of an eye, a house appeared.

  • Thought about it, this was my first idea, I wanted to see more solutions :) Thanks however.
    – sinon1
    Mar 1, 2016 at 13:40

Expedite, and the adjective expeditious connote performing tasks faster than usual. Faster than had no effort taken to do so.

The past/completion participle would be used to describe the task that was expedited, and the effort taken expeditious.

A synonym would be accelerate, and the completion participle accelerated.

ex·pe·dite (ĕk′spĭ-dīt′)

tr.v. ex·pe·dit·ed, ex·pe·dit·ing, ex·pe·dites
To speed up the progress of or execute quickly: expedite the review of a legal case; expedite a loan application.

[Latin expedīre, expedīt-, to free from entanglements, make ready; see ped- in Indo-European roots.]
ex′pe·dit′er, ex′pe·di′tor n.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


A common response in this situation would be understatement: Well, that was quick. with slight emphasis on "that". Since the fact of quickness is what is being commented on, it implies that the quickness was unexpected.


dramatically fast/quick

unparalleled/unmatched speed

unanticipated haste

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