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stop short (third-person singular simple present stops short, present participle stopping short, simple past and past participle stopped short)

  1. To come to a sudden and unexpected stop, particularly while speaking or driving a vehicle.
  2. Usually with of, to voluntarily cease an attempt to reach a certain point.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody, chapter III:
      Turning back, then, toward the basement staircase, she began to grope her way through blinding darkness, but had taken only a few uncertain steps when, of a sudden, she stopped short and for a little stood like a stricken thing, quite motionless save that she quaked to her very marrow in the grasp of a great and enervating fear.

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