from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A very short period of time; an instant: came back in a trice.
  • transitive v. Nautical To hoist and secure with a rope: trice a sail.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A very short time; an instant; a moment; – now used only in the phrase in a trice.
  • v. To pull; to haul; to drag; to pull away.
  • v. To haul and tie up by means of a rope.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To pull; to haul; to drag; to pull away.
  • transitive v. To haul and tie up by means of a rope.
  • n. A very short time; an instant; a moment; -- now used only in the phrase in a trice.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A roller; a windlass.
  • Nautical, to haul up; tie up or lash by means of a small rope: commonly with up.
  • To drag; pull.
  • n. A very short time; an instant; a moment: only in the phrase in (formerly also at, with, or on) a trice.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. raise with a line
  • n. a very short time (as the time it takes the eye to blink or the heart to beat)
  • v. hoist up or in and lash or secure with a small rope


From Middle English (at a) trise, at one pull, from trisen, to hoist, from Middle Dutch trīsen, from trīse, pulley. V., from Middle English trisen.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • This would bear more scrutiny had France not deployed plenty of clichés already; yet her characters keep songs in their hearts, or sob with all of them, while the use of "in a trice" is an incentive to close the book faster than whatever measure of time a trice signifies.

    Hill Farm by Miranda France – review

  • Vanishing, with a quick flirt of gingham apron-strings, she reappeared in considerably less than a "trice" as a fluffy

    Strictly business: more stories of the four million

  • The bathtubs, it was true, could now be "filled in a trice because of torrents delivered through a heroic spout," in contrast to the painfully slow faucets of early liners.

    When the Going Was Good

  • Of course, the greatest problem in a democracy is that half the voters have a below average IQ. trice

    No angry mobs, but tough questions at Maryland town hall

  • In a trice, scores of moccasins were widening the space of beaten snow by the fire.

    The Sun of the Wolf

  • In a trice every window was vomiting forth the débris that clogged the interior.

    Mexico's Army and Ours

  • Of course, I could have struggled away from him and freed my hand or gotten my mouth clear so that I might cry an alarm, but in a trice Yellow Handkerchief was on top of me.


  • In a trice the frost was started and the thawed streamlets dancing madly on the white-hot surface beneath.

    CHAPTER 20

  • Jean de Joinville bore Philippa away in the press, and Fortini and I settled our arrangements in a trice.

    Chapter 11

  • And with that she was away and below and back in a trice, in her hand



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  • All the hides, too, that came down in the boats were soaked with water, and unfit to put below, so that we were obliged to trice them up to dry, in the intervals of sunshine or wind, upon all parts of the vessel.

    - Richard Henry Dana Jr., Two Years Before the Mast, ch. 26

    September 9, 2008