How Fast Is A Bat Out Of Hell? 19 Speed Cliches, Measured Scientifically

Make it snappy like wildfire.

1. “Bat out of hell” = 3-8 meters per second.

Flickr: andy_bernay-roman / Creative Commons

Based on the recorded flight speeds of bats. It’s slower than Usain Bolt, but that depends on the severity of Hellfire.

2. “Blink of an eye” = 100-400 milliseconds.

Flickr: jonathancohen / Creative Commons

The time it takes for you to touch your eyelids together is not faster than blink of an eye, incidentally.

3. “Like a speeding bullet” = 1200 meters per second.

Flickr: nebarnix / Creative Commons

Based on the average speed of a bullet coming out of a high-powered rifle. This is basically the speed of Superman.

4. “Lightning fast” = 60 miles per second.

Flickr: wardmedia / Creative Commons

Based on the time it takes for lightning to hit the ground from the clouds. It’s faster when greased.

5. “In a jiffy” = approximately one nanosecond.


About a “light-foot,” or the time it takes for light to travel 12 inches.

6. “Flash in the pan” = 2.8 meters per second.

Flickr: tonyjcase / Creative Commons

Based on the flame velocity of commercial propane, because we are cooking with gas now.

7. “Get into high gear” = 50 milliseconds.

Flickr: braintoad / Creative Commons

The time it takes the supercar Lamborghini Aventador to shift gears, in which a neuron could fire only 50 times.

8. “In a flash” = 186,000 miles per second.

Superman #709 / Via

The speed of light, or fast enough to actually perceive the present.

9. “Split-second” = half of a second.

Flickr: 23460066@N06 / Creative Commons


10. “Drop of a hat” = 0.5 seconds.

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Hat dropped from shoulder height using free fall equations and Earth’s gravity. This also happens to be a split-second.

11. “Before you know it” = 5 milliseconds.

Flickr: birthintobeing / Creative Commons

Based on how quickly brain neurons fire.

12. “Like wildfire” = 14 miles per hour.

Flickr: vissago / Creative Commons

Based on how fast a wildfire can move through an area, depending on wind and other factors. You could run faster than this.

13. “Make it snappy” = 15-20 miles per hour.

Flickr: phunk / Creative Commons

Based on slow-motion video of people snapping their fingers. Considering the speeds, you could make it snappy like wildfire.

14. “Pedal to the metal” = 14.5 seconds.


Based on the time for fastest road car to go from 0 to 200 miles per hour.

15. “Snail’s pace” = 0.0028 meters per second.

Flickr: photo_munki / Creative Commons

Based on the speed of a dang fast garden snail.

16. “Glacial pace” = 30 meters per day.

NASA/GSFC/Jefferson Beck / Via Flickr: gsfc

Based on the speed of the fastest glacier—the Jakobshavn Glacier. This is slower than a snail’s pace.

17. “Full throttle” = 36,300 miles per hour. / Via Flickr: dirkjankraan / Creative Commons

Based on the Earth-relative velocity of New Horizons spacecraft launch—the fastest thing with a throttle. Though incredibly quick, this is only 17% of greased lightning.

18. “Beat to the draw” = 0.21 seconds.


Based on the (highly disputed) fast-draw gun-slinging record. This is almost faster than the average human reaction time.

19. “Breakneck pace” = 3.5Gs, or 34 meters per second per second.

Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images

Based on the deceleration required to cause cervical injury, similar to releasing break cute on a dragster.

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