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saved by the bell

  1. (boxing, wrestling, of a competitor) In a boxing or wrestling match or similar competition, spared from being counted out by the referee by the ringing of the bell which concludes the round.
  2. (idiomatic, by extension) Rescued or favorably assisted by a timely interruption or by the sudden termination of difficult circumstances.
    • 1988, Patrick Seale and Maureen McConville, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East, →ISBN, p. 248 (Google preview):
      So Asad's probing created a problem. . . . In a real sense Kissinger was saved by the bell: the American party had that afternoon to catch a plane to Israel.
    • 1997, John Howard Yoder, For the Nations: Essays Evangelical and Public, →ISBN, p. 130 (Google preview):
      The Montgomery bus boycott was "saved by the bell" of a federal Supreme Court decision that came just before the last minute.
    • 2001 April 17, David M. Halbfinger, "New Jersey's Acting Governor Was Faulted on Ethics in 1998," New York Times (retrieved 6 Jan 2014):
      But in 1998, Mr. DiFrancesco never answered the allegations against him to the satisfaction of town officials. Instead, he was saved by the bell, in a way: In a rare electoral upset, Democrats took control of the Township Council in November 1998. They immediately fired Mr. DiFrancesco and replaced him with a Democrat, giving his termination the appearance of simple partisan politics.