The time of day when people are going to or from work in an area where the commute is short or has little traffic. Also: rush-minute. adj.
During my year and a half as a Bellevue resident, I've found that traffic here, like most places, is a topic that unites the masses. We've all been through it, and we've all got complaints.
Out in this growing bedroom community where getting from place to place is a breeze compared to other parts of the city I've run across my share of early-morning jams, speeding cars, near misses, cell-phone-talkers and horn-honkers. Coming from a small New England town, where people refer to morning traffic as the "rush minute," it took some getting used to.
Rebecca Denton, "Bellevue traffic not as busy as you might think," The Tennessean, May 15, 2003
Colleen McCarthy fretted through four traffic-light changes, trying to turn onto what used to be a rural road heading into the Helena Valley. It's now a strip of new stores, fast-food restaurants and burgeoning subdivisions.
"We used to have the rush-minute," said McCarthy, a Helena native who is the city's mayor. "Now we have the rush half-hour."
Susan Gallagher, "Montana's struggles with growth," Chicago Sun-Times, July 28, 1996
Milwaukee, with an average commute of 19 minutes, would not seem to be a prime candidate for a rail system either, yet officials there are plunging ahead with an $890,000 study 80% financed by Washington of a $165.8 million, 14.3-mi. rail system to link downtown with the Northridge Shopping Center on the northwest side. Brian F. O'Connell, a transportation planner with Milwaukee's City development Dept., defends the proposal even though he concedes that Milwaukee has been described as having "a rush minute."
"Mass transit: The expensive dream," Business Week, August 27, 1984
This phrase is a play on rush hour, a term that I would have guessed was invented in the 1960s, or the 1950s at the earliest. Nope. Surprisingly, it actually dates to the late 19th century. The Oxford English Dictionary supplies us with the following citation from the October 8, 1898 edition of the Westminster Gazette:
"Trailer cars can be put on during the 'rush hours', mornings and evenings."
It's possible that rush minute is older than I thought, as well. Linguist Michael Quinion (see his excellent World Wide Words site) passed the following note along:
This rather neat play on the better-known expression must have been independently invented by several people. I first heard it in 1971 from Colm Connolly, the presenter of a radio programme in Plymouth that I was producing, as a facetious comment on the smallness of some of the local communities. He probably picked it up from somebody in his home city of Dublin.