Also: Be back in a jiff!

Jiff/ Jiffy – What does that even mean?! This colloquial Irish expression (although maybe it is used in other places as well) is used to disguise a multitude of non-answers! When someone says that they will be back in a jiffy it can mean anything from coming back in 5 minutes to not returning at all. Although in fairness the last one only happened to me once.

But I am seriously curious as to where this comes from and once again Wikipedia is my trusty friend, in a jiffy it told me that:

“The earliest technical usage for jiffy was defined by Gilbert Newton Lewis (1875–1946). He proposed a unit of time called the “jiffy” which was equal to the time it takes light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum (approximately 33.3564 picoseconds).”

I somehow feel we have moved away from this precise definition…

 

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