I wanted to say - time flies very fast with the usage of the idiom "in the blink of an eye". The sentence goes like this - Time flies like in the blink of an eye. Is this the correct usage of the idiom?

  • Isn’t the idiom in the wink of an eye? I’ve heard the blinkered version. The OED has an entry for ‘in a wink’ to mean ‘in a trice’. – tchrist Feb 18 '12 at 12:55
  • I think it's effectively a mixed metaphor. But it belongs on writers.se anyway. – FumbleFingers Feb 18 '12 at 14:51
  • A related question re: articles which discusses specifically 'in [article] blink of [article] eye'. – Mitch Feb 18 '12 at 14:57

In the blink of an eye is a very short time in its literal sense. There is no need to use "like" here— it isn't like an instant, it is an instant.

Time flies is an idiom which evokes the general sense that it moves quickly, and more quickly than we perceive it, but not necessarily in an instant. The old saying is Time flies when you're having fun, meaning time seems to pass more quickly when having fun, but not that the fun is over with as soon as it started.

They are both clichés, and I would try to think of better expressions perhaps more directly related to the topic. If you do use one, remove the other, as they are redundant. You could say, for example,

My first year at university passed in the blink of an eye.

Time flew during my first year at university.

  • Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. – Jim Feb 29 '12 at 6:04

Time flew during my first year at university.

My first year at university passed in the blink of an eye.

Grammatically, these are good examples, but I'd like to expound.

Time flew implies time went by quickly.

In the blink on an eye implies something happens in an instant, such as a sudden, unforeseen calamity.

Hence, I have no problem with "Time flew during my first year at university," but it's hard to resolve a one-year event happening in the blink of an eye.

So, I would suggest:

Time flew during my first year at the university.

Things were going well during my second year at the university, then, in the blink of an eye, my world was turned upside-down.


Not quite. Something that happens very quickly can be said to happen in the blink of an eye, but not time itself.


the wink of an eye, or the blink of an eye?

Here's an Ngram:

  • So one is a new fad, and the other has been around for centuries. Got it. – tchrist Feb 19 '12 at 21:57
  • @tchrist - It might be as you say (new & old versions) or might not, in that both phrases have some other, disjoint uses -- a wink as a signal, a blink as a reaction -- that confound the issue slightly. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Feb 20 '12 at 8:36
  • 3
    The King James Bible has: "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump" (I Cor 15:52) – GEdgar Feb 20 '12 at 15:13

protected by tchrist Mar 1 '15 at 18:41

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