split-sec·​ond | \ ˈsplit-ˈse-kənd How to pronounce split-second (audio) \

Definition of split-second

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : occurring in a split second a split-second decision
2 : extremely precise split-second timing

split second


Definition of split second (Entry 2 of 2)

: a fractional part of a second : flash

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of split-second in a Sentence

Noun In a split second, it was all over. a devastating accident can cause everything in your life to change in a split second
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In a split second, stability returned to a workplace whose employees had been convulsed by uncertainty. Lisa Rein, Anchorage Daily News, "A government shutdown and the biggest raise in a decade: How Trump gave federal workers whiplash in 2019," 29 Dec. 2019 In the age before newspaper photography, the illustrator supported the story in suggesting flashes of momentous action occurring over split seconds. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Puzzling over Meaning in Winslow Homer’s Kissing the Moon," 7 Dec. 2019 On the other hand, a retweet takes a split second and requires minimal thought or reflection from users, and virality can be engineered by bots and nefarious actors — a problem for which Twitter has not yet devised a solution. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "Why Twitter’s New Restrictions on Political Advertising Make No Sense," 7 Nov. 2019 And for a split second, everyone around Minkah Fitzpatrick eased up. Will Graves, sun-sentinel.com, "Ex-Dolphins DB Minkah Fitzpatrick’s arrival has galvanized Steelers’ defense, led to team’s turnaround," 11 Nov. 2019 Police bodycam video showed Dean making his way around the side of the house into the backyard in the darkness and opening fire a split second after shouting at Jefferson to show her hands. BostonGlobe.com, "FORT WORTH — Fort Worth’s police chief reiterated Tuesday that a white officer’s killing of a black woman in her home was inexcusable, as an arrest warrant was released quoting the victim’s 8-year-old nephew as saying she pointed a gun at a bedroom window after hearing suspicious noises outside.," 16 Oct. 2019 Police bodycam video showed Dean making his way around the side of the house into the backyard in the darkness and opening fire a split second after shouting at the 28-year-old Jefferson to show her hands. Jake Bleiberg, chicagotribune.com, "Texas officer charged with murder in shooting of woman in her home released on bond; police chief says there is ‘absolutely no excuse’ for killing," 15 Oct. 2019 Roland-Wallace stuck with Johnson for most of the route but appeared to glance into the backfield for a split second, allowing Johnson to separate from him. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "Hope or hopeless? Takeaways from Arizona Wildcats' loss to Oregon Ducks," 18 Nov. 2019 Jumping early before the snap; a receiver or defensive back dropping a ball; a defender failing to fall on a loose ball for a turnover; a running back losing balance for a split second to turn a potential explosive play into an average one. Brian Howell, The Denver Post, "Process of laying foundation ongoing for Mel Tucker, CU Buffs," 1 Nov. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of split-second


1944, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1912, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about split-second

Time Traveler for split-second

Time Traveler

The first known use of split-second was in 1912

See more words from the same year

Statistics for split-second

Cite this Entry

“Split-second.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/split%20second. Accessed 19 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for split-second


How to pronounce split second (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of split-second

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: done very quickly
: very accurate or precise

split second


English Language Learners Definition of split second (Entry 2 of 2)

: a very short period of time

More from Merriam-Webster on split-second

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for split-second

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with split-second

Comments on split-second

What made you want to look up split-second? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to insert between existing elements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!