It's common but what does it mean'

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Dear Editor,

I have noticed the use of the term “near miss” in the media several times recently, and I wonder if this is just a term that has gained common use to describe “an almost accident?” 

If you examine the words carefully – “near” means “close to” or “nearly”.   “Miss” could mean “not a hit.”  Does “near miss” really mean, then, that you nearly missed having an accident, as in – you actually had the accident? 

Margaret Garrett