Before You Know It

Meaning of Idiom ‘Before You Know It’

Before you know it means very soon; almost immediately; surprisingly quickly; before you are even aware of it; when you least expect it. 1Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,2Bengelsdorf, Peter. Idioms in the News – 1,000 Phrases, Real Examples. N.p.: Amz Digital Services, 2012.,3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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This idiom refers to something that will happen or that has happened and it is almost always an exaggeration.

Examples Of Use

“Summer vacation will be here before you know it,” said Mom. “It’s months away,” said Graham. “That’s almost forever!”

“Before you know it you’re going to be an adult. You need to start thinking about your future.”

“I’ll be back on the mound before you know it,” said the injured pitcher.

“Before he even knew it his kids had moved away.”

“How long before we get there?” asked Emily. “We’ll be there before you know it,” said Mom.


Used since at least the 1890s, this idiom alludes to something happening before you have time to become aware of it or prepare for it.

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