New York Minute – Idiom, Origin and Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

What the heck is a New York minute? Is it a real measure of time? Are minutes faster or longer in New York? All great questions, and ones I’ll touch on in this quick grammar guide. If you’re wondering what a New York minute means, I’ll explain the true definition, share its origin, and give you some sentence examples to play with.

What Is a New York Minute?

New York Minute Idiom Origin Meaning

A “New York minute” is a super popular idiomatic expression used in most English-speaking countries to describe a very short period of time. It’s one that’s often used to really emphasize that something happened quickly or unexpectedly. The expression is supposed to convey a sense of urgency and the hustle, which we stereotypically know of the fast-paced nature of life in New York City.

It’s like when I ask my editor when they need my revised manuscript back, and they reply with, “In a New York minute,” then I know they mean it needs to be done quickly.

How Long Is a New York Minute?

So, “a New York minute” is supposed to be an informal phrase and not an exact unit of time because it generally suggests a time span of less than a minute or even a few seconds. You can apply it to anything that either happened too quickly or something that you want to happen fast.

Origin of New York Minute

Johnny Carson, the infamous T.V. personality and talk show host, once said that a New York minute is the interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn.

But that was back in the 1970s, and the phrase was apparently used during the 1960s in Texas when Texans poked fun at New Yorkers and their fast pace of life, stating that what they could do in an instant would take someone in Texas a whole actual minute.

What Is a Synonym for a New York Minute?

  • In a flash
  • In the blink of an eye
  • In a heartbeat
  • In an instant
  • Before you know it
  • At the speed of light
  • At the drop of a hat

New York Minute Examples in a Sentence

New York Minute Idiom Origin Meaning 1
  • Carrie finished her presentation in what felt like a New York minute, and she worried she might have rushed through it, but everyone was impressed.
  • The Taylor Swift tickets sold out in a New York minute, so we had to resort to paying outrageous prices from scalpers online.
  • I told him the news about my promotion in another province, and he decided to go in a New York minute.
  • I admire how our CEO’s mind works at lightning speed; he can analyze a situation in a New York minute.
  • If you snooze, you lose—opportunities in the publishing industry can disappear in a New York minute.

Slow Down

You can’t learn English in a New York minute—that’s for sure. Did you know it’s one of the world’s top 3 hardest languages to learn? It’s probably from all our crazy idioms and quirky phrases, like New York minute. Nonetheless, take your time, learn everything you can, and play around with the idioms you learn about in my guides.