before one can say Jack Robinson

before one can say Jack Robinson

Meaning

  • very suddenly
  • in a very short duration

Example Sentences

  1. I wanted to have a meaningful conversation with him when he was back from work but he was gone before I could say Jack Robinson.
  2. Men always tend to avoid messy subjects and arguments. They would be gone before you can say Jack Robinson, mark my words.
  3. His house was already built before one could say Jack Robinson.
  4. The judge sentenced him to life imprisonment before the defense lawyer could say Jack Robinson.
  5. After the professional fees were announced, the patient disappeared from the ward before the nurse could say Jack Robinson.

Origin
There was no such figure recorded in history named Jack Robinson who was quick on his feet and hence gained reputation through this phrase. At one point in time there was a Sir John Robinson who was the guard of the Tower of London who would behead inmates at a record speed but historians believe that the phrase was coined before his time. Jack Robinson seems to be a made up figure like Santa Claus or Jack Frost. In 1778, Mme. Frances D’Arblay, used this phrase in her work which was a romantic novel.

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