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)

4 Answers 4


「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:



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? Commented Jul 23, 2015 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
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 13:30
  • 1
    Google has the best translation for あっという間に。 Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 7:21

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
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 2:18
  • @Pandacoder Just so that I understand correctly: Is the literal translation 一瞬で not an idiom in Japanese? Commented Jul 23, 2015 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
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 3:46
  • @Pandacoder I'm the asker not the answererよ(^^) Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 4:32
  • 1
    This is not a literal translation. It is an actual phrase. It just so happens it matches English literally.
    – user224579
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 16:52

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)

瞬く間に(またたくまに)seems exactly the one.

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