What Does Lickety-Split Mean?

Lickety-Split Meaning

Definition: Immediately; very fast.

Origin of Lickety-Split

Although it is unclear exactly how this idiom originated, most sources agree that it first started appearing in print around the year 1850, and that it is American in its origin.

Examples of Lickety-Split

In this example, two women use this expression while discussing an upcoming meeting.

meaning of lickety splitBella: Are you ready for the meeting?

Hannah: What meeting?

Bella: The meeting for the whole company. It’s huge, and it’s starting in about 10 minutes.

Hannah: No! I didn’t hear anything about it!

Bella: Everyone got sent an email about it yesterday with information to review beforehand.

Hannah: It must have gone to my junk folder.

Bella: Well you’d better find it and read it lickety-split!

Hannah: I know! I want to be prepared. I’ll do it now. I’ll meet you there.

definition of lickety splitIn our next example, a woman uses the expression to explain that her and her friend need to get going to a movie.

Hanh: Hurry up! We’re going to be late for the movie!

Zhongyi: Don’t worry. We’ve got plenty of time.

Hanh: Plenty of time? The movie starts in 10 minutes and we’re a 15-minute drive away!

Zhongyi: Are you serious? Oh no, my watch is broken. I thought it was an hour earlier!

Hanh: Put on your coat and get your keys! Lickety-split!

More Examples

In the excerpt below, the author uses the idiom to explain that a computer technician fixed his computer problem very quickly.

  • Then the operator told me I had to wait three days to get another appointment. Anyway, three days later the technician came — early, in fact — and fixed the problem lickety-split. –USA Today

In the second example, the idiom describes how quickly voters moved through the line to place their votes.

  • “When I came in and saw the line, I thought ‘oh no’ at first, but I went through like lickety split,” said Maureen Doyle, 75, a retired school social worker. –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Summary

The phrase lickety-split is an expression that means that something is moving or happening rapidly.

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