“I’ll be Back in a Jiffy”

A fascinating part of the English language is the origin of common expressions.

For example, all my life I’ve heard phrases like “I’ll be back in a jiffy.” Until recently, I never stopped to wonder exactly what a jiffy was.

Now i know — A jiffy is actually a unit of time. But like everything else in life, it’s complicated. The exact meaning depends on whether you’re talking about electronics, computers, or physics.

In electronics, it’s the time between cycles of alternating current, or about 1/60th of  a second.

In computers, it’s the basic “tick” of the system processor, usually about 1/250th of a second.

The physics definition is the time it takes light to travel 1 centimeter — 0.000,000,000,033,300 seconds.

If all of that is confusing, just remember it’s a very short interval.

From “FACT: a “jiffy” is an actual measurement of time” (https://www.lsned.com/jiffy-measurement-time/). The illustration is from that site.

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