5

What is the idiom "in the blink of an eye" in Japanese?

I want to use it to say that two years will be over in the blink of an eye or "before you even notice".

(For a detailed discussion and examples of the English idiom please see e.g. here)

12

「あっという間{ま}」 is the phrase I would suggest.

"Two years will be over in the blink of an eye." would be:

「2年{ねん}なんて、あっという間だよ。」

「2年なんて、あっという間に終{お}わるよ。」

Needless to say, 「あっという間」 literally means "while you utter 「あ」". It is a very common and useful phrase for "in the blink of an eye".

  • Is it also natural Japanese if instead of なんて I say って? – ナウシカ Jul 23 '15 at 12:07
  • That's also natural but the meaning would be a bit different. (noun)なんて conveys a contemptuous nuance to the noun. – user4092 Jul 23 '15 at 13:30
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    Google has the best translation for あっという間に。 – Matthew James Davis Aug 10 '15 at 7:21
6

一瞬で, 一瞬にして, etc.

Coincidentally (or not coincidentally), the 瞬 in 一瞬 means blink.

  • I'm not downvoting, but when translating idioms I'd go for translating the colloquial meaning, not the literal meaning. – Pandacoder Jul 23 '15 at 2:18
  • @Pandacoder Just so that I understand correctly: Is the literal translation 一瞬で not an idiom in Japanese? – ナウシカ Jul 23 '15 at 3:27
  • I don't know enough to answer that question, but I think it might be (an idiom). To try to clarify what I meant: your translation for this specific idiom seemed to be too... literal or direct. Based on the additional criteria of "before you even notice" I would say that the other answer better fits the mental picture (that at least I have) of the idiom in English. Granted, I don't know every English variation of "in a blink of the eye", so you may have been going for something I'm not aware of. – Pandacoder Jul 23 '15 at 3:46
  • @Pandacoder I'm the asker not the answererよ(^^) – ナウシカ Jul 23 '15 at 4:32
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    This is not a literal translation. It is an actual phrase. It just so happens it matches English literally. – user224579 Jul 23 '15 at 16:52
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In addition to other great answers: I also heard the phrases with roughly the same meaning here and there:

  • いつの間にか 「いつの間にかAがBに変わった」
  • たちまちのうちに 「たちまちのうちにAが売り切れになってしまった」 (I would appreciate if a native speaker could comment if this expression is archaic or regional, heard it Kansai)
0

瞬く間に(またたくまに)seems exactly the one.

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