Is there any common phrase to compare with?

I would like to say something like:

  • This should not last longer then...

    1. ...a flash.
    2. ...a blink.
    3. ...a blast.
    4. ...crack of a whip.
    5. anything else?

closed as too broad by tchrist Aug 13 '17 at 22:37

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  • Short in time (duration) or short in space (length/height)? – Dan Bron Jun 14 '17 at 11:01
  • I can’t say any of those examples is grammatically wrong but This should not last longer than a blink should illustrate why none of them really works. …a blink here has meaning almost solely as a reminder of … the blink of an eye. Even then, the difference in the articles is significant. flash, blast or crack of a whip lack even such association. Above and beyond that, who thinks it best to use not longer while considering short? – Robbie Goodwin Jun 27 '17 at 20:02
  • over in a heartbeat – Phil Sweet Jul 14 '17 at 15:51
  • @DanBron , I was thinking of a short time. The instances provided above does not suggest this, do they? – Sebo.PL Oct 18 '18 at 16:11

A common idiomatic phrase for a short period of time is the blink of an eye:

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



Try a New York minute. It's defined as an instant or flash on the Merriam-Webster website, and Wikipedia suggests that is because of the fast pace that characterizes New York City. A column by William Safire about language that was published in The New York Times on October 19, 1986, includes several humorous of examples of its use. Safire notes that a 1985 country music song contains the line, "I'd make love to you in a New York minute and take my Texas time doing it."


My view is all of these are correct to use and what expression you use is more depenent on what you want to compare it with. In case of longer durations people also use various expressions like this internet is so slow that it will take million years to download this file. Now that million years is just expressing how slow the internet is and dependent on how the person wants to express it. You can also use trillion years, many years, several hours etc and all are equally valid. Same in your question. All of these expressions are valid for any event which will last for a few seconds or even minutes.

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