Context: The number on my lottery ticket: 26381 The official result for the first prize: 26384

(In my country, it's 2/6/3/8/1 - five different numbers. The numbers can repeat and are already printed on the tickets).

And I want to say "You missed one number, otherwise you would have won the first prize".So is "Was one number short of getting the first prize!" a correct sentence to express what I mean?

If not, how can I say that (I prefer an exclamatory sentence, if possible!)?

2 Answers 2


Without explaining it, one number short may be misunderstood such as 4 or 5; 6 or 7, and so on. In short, number in series. But, out of many, in such cases, I use an idiom (since you asked for exclamatory!) hair's breadth.

Ah....missed the lottery jackpot by a hair's breadth.

Or just missed is simple and easily understood.

Ah...just missed the jackpot

Now, that's an idiomatic expression. If you want to emphasize on the digit, you may say,

Missed the first prize by one digit

But here, you then need to explain what that digit is.

The last digit is '4' and I have '1.'

As I said, it's just one way to tell this with exclamation. Wait for others to respond.


I think any native speaker would understand one number short in the context of a lottery to mean that you had all but one of the numbers (not all but one of the digits that make up a number).

Suppose these were the winning numbers:

2, 16, 33, 41, 59

If you had 58 instead of 59, or 44 instead of 59, you could still say I was one number short of winning the lottery.

  • So you mean "was one number short of winning the 1st prize" is correct?
    – haile
    Sep 11, 2018 at 15:25
  • @haile: Yes, it is idiomatic, as per my examples. Sep 11, 2018 at 18:31

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