hair·​breadth | \ ˈher-ˌbretth How to pronounce hairbreadth (audio) , -ˌbreth, -ˌbredth \
variants: or hairsbreadth \ ˈherz-​ˌbretth How to pronounce hairbreadth (audio) , -​ˌbreth , -​ˌbredth \

Definition of hairbreadth

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a very small distance or margin



Definition of hairbreadth (Entry 2 of 2)

: very narrow : close a hairbreadth escape

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Examples of hairbreadth in a Sentence

Noun just missed the bull's-eye by a hairbreadth Adjective a hairbreadth victory, but a victory nevertheless
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Should the electoral officials’ math hold up, the hairbreadth victory is likely to provide only limited comfort to Mr. del Mazo’s party. Kirk Semple And Marina Franco, New York Times, "In Mexican Election, Governing Party Is Poised for a Narrow Win," 4 June 2017 The year closed with the hairbreadth victory of a law-and-order Presidential nominee whose Southern strategy of racial politicking remade the electoral map. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "The Return of Civil Disobedience," 9 Jan. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Nancy Pelosi will have a hairbreadth four-vote majority in the House with two seats still undecided. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Give Joe Biden a Break," 17 Dec. 2020 The hairbreadth outcome in the race belied its sweeping consequences. Author: Alexander Burns And Jonathan Martin, Anchorage Daily News, "Democrat wins Pennsylvania House race in Trump country," 14 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hairbreadth.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hairbreadth


1561, in the meaning defined above


1604, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for hairbreadth

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The first known use of hairbreadth was in 1561

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Cite this Entry

“Hairbreadth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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