Definition of time noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//taɪm//
    ; NAmE NAmE//taɪm//
    see also times
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    minutes/hours/years, etc.
  1. 1  [uncountable] what is measured in minutes, hours, days, etc. The changing seasons mark the passing of time. A visit to the museum will take you back in time to the 1930s. time and space As time went by we saw less and less of each other. Perceptions change over time (= as time passes). They say that time heals all wounds. see also Father Time
  2. 2  [uncountable] the time shown on a clock in minutes and hours What time is it/What’s the time? Do you have the time? (British English) What time do you make it? (North American English) What time do you have? The time is now half past ten. (British English) Can she tell the time yet (= say what time it is by looking at a clock)? (North American English) Can she tell time yet? My watch keeps perfect time (= always shows the correct time). Look at the time! We'll be late. This time tomorrow I'll be in Canada.
  3. 3  [uncountable] the time measured in a particular part of the world Greenwich Mean Time 6 o’clock local time see also standard time, summer time
  4. 4  [uncountable, countable] the time when something happens or when something should happen What time do you finish work? The baby loves bath time. time (to do something) I think it's time to go to bed. This is hardly the time to discuss politics. time (for something) It's time for lunch. time (that)… It's time the kids were in bed. By the time you get there the meeting will be over. A computer screen shows arrival and departure times. The train arrived right on time (= at exactly the correct time). You'll feel differently about it when the time comes (= when it happens). Have I called at a bad time? Shall I call back later? The promotion came at just the right time for me. We stock six different beers at any one time. see also any time, closing time, drive time, night-time, opening time
  5. period
  6. 5  [uncountable] time (to do something) an amount of time; the amount of time available to work, rest, etc. Allow plenty of time to get to the airport. I can probably make the time to see them. It takes time to make changes in the law. We have no time to lose (= we must hurry). We got to the airport with time to spare. He spends most of his time working. She doesn’t have much free/spare time. Sorry, I can’t spare the time. What a waste of time! I didn't finish the test—I ran out of time. Time's up—have you worked out the answer yet? He never takes any time off (= time spent not working). Jane's worked here for some time (= for a fairly long period of time). Do it now please—not in three hours' time (= three hours from now). The journey time is two hours. I don’t want to take up too much of your precious time. What’s the hurry? We have all the time in the world. see also response time
  7. 6  a time [singular] a period of time, either long or short, during which you do something or something happens His injuries will take a long time to heal. Did you have to wait a long time to see the doctor? I lived in Egypt for a time. The early morning is the best time of day. Her parents died a long time ago. At one time (= at a period of time in the past) Emily was my best friend. Mr Curtis was the manager in my time (= when I was working there).
  8. 7  [uncountable, plural] a period of history connected with particular events or experiences in people’s lives The movie is set at the time of the Russian Revolution. in ancient times the violent times we live in (= the present period of history) the politician who promised ‘peace in our time’ Times are hard for the unemployed. Times have changed since Grandma was young. see also old-time
  9. occasion/event
  10. 8  [countable] an occasion when you do something or when something happens Every time I hear that song I feel happy. It doesn't matter if you don't win every time (= every time you play). Next time you're here let's have lunch together. He failed his driving test three times. He's determined to pass this time. When was the last time you saw her? How many times (= how often) do I have to tell you not to do that? (especially North American English) I remember one time (= once) we had to abandon our car in the snow. (formal) At no time did I give my consent to the plan. To talk about the first or the last time you do something, use the first/last time (that) I…:This is the first time (that) I’ve been to London.This is the first time for me to go to London.That was the last time (that) I saw her.
  11. 9  [countable] an event or occasion that you experience in a particular way Did you have a good time in Spain? I had an awful time in the hospital. Mike and I shared some really good times.
  12. for race
  13. 10[countable, uncountable] how long somebody takes to run a race or complete an event The winner's time was 11.6 seconds. She completed the 500 metres in record time (= faster than any previous runner). one of the fastest times ever
  14. in music
  15. 11 [uncountable] the number of beats in a bar / measure of music This piece is in four-four time. a slow waltz time The conductor beat time with a baton.
  16. 12 [uncountable] the correct speed and rhythm of a piece of music Try and dance in time to the music (= with the same speed and rhythm). Clap your hands to keep time (= sing or move with the correct speed and rhythm). to play in/out of time (= follow/not follow the correct speed and rhythm) He always plays in perfect time. see also big time, small-time
  17. Word OriginOld English tīma, of Germanic origin; related to tide, which it superseded in temporal senses. The earliest of the current verb senses (dating from late Middle English) is ‘do (something) at a particular moment’.Extra examples A great deal of time has been spent on developing this software. As time went by we saw less and less of each other. At one time Mary was my best friend. At the time of writing, a ceasefire is under discussion. By the time you get there the meeting will be over. Can he tell the time yet? Check the programme ahead of time. De Niro makes the most of limited screen time. Do you have time for a chat? Do you need more time? Every time I hear that song I feel happy. Finishing the book was a race against time. For the first time in history, more than half of us now live in cities. Get to the airport in good time. Have you lived abroad for any length of time? He can be rather moody at times. He completed the course in record time. He lived at the time of the Civil War. He put all his time into the show. He surfs the Internet for hours at a time. He’d been thinking about quitting his job for quite some time. Her parents died a long time ago. Her skills improved with time. Hot water is available at all times. How time flies! I can certainly do the job if you give me time. I can never find time to write letters. I can remember the first time I met her. I didn’t finish the test—I ran out of time. I had no time to think. I hope to spend more time with my family. I lived there for a time. I told her not to do it for the umpteenth time. I’ll be back in ten minutes’ time. I’m determined to pass this time. I’ve told you countless times. Is this an appropriate time to discuss my salary? It helps to pass the time. It took her a long time to read the report. It was a fun time for us girls. It was only a matter of time before someone tried to kill him. It’s a sign of the times when sports stars earn more than movie stars. It’s time for a break. Kelly played guitar and everyone clapped their hands in time. Let me just check the time. Mr Curtis was the manager in my time. My watch keeps good time. Next time you’re here let’s have lunch together. Not knowing what to do, she played for time by going to the bathroom. Perceptions change over time. She clocked up one of the fastest times of the year. She devotes all her spare time to gardening. She spends much of her time reading. She’ll have gone by the time we get there. Sorry, your time is up. Take your time. The Beatles were before my time. The attacks were launched at 9 p.m. local time. The chairlift can take four people at a time. The changing seasons mark the passing of time. The coach plans to give younger players more playing time. The leaves start to turn red at this time of (the) year. The letter was in my pocket all the time. The origins of this custom are lost in the mists of time. The plane took off an hour behind time. The play takes us back in time to the 1940s. The time is ripe for revolution. The trains are rarely on time. The world exists in time and space. There are extra buses at peak times. There is a long lead time between order and delivery of the product. There’s less traffic at this time of day. They didn’t allow much time for discussion. They were clapping in time to the music. This doesn’t leave much time for us to get ready. This time tomorrow I’ll be in Canada. This would be a bad time to tell her. Time drags in this job. Time heals all wounds. Time was when we never needed to lock our house at night. Times have changed since Grandma was young. We got home in time to see the end of the game. We had a great time at the party. We had everything worked out ahead of time. We had to wait some time before the bus arrived. We have no time to lose. We need to fix a time for the next meeting. We will discuss this matter later, if time permits. We’ll have to bide our time until the rain stops. We’re wasting precious time. What a waste of time! What are you doing out of bed at this time of night? What time do you make it? Where does the time go? You would save time with a dishwasher. You’ll feel differently about it when the time comes. You’ll get used to the work in time. Your time will come. in times of trouble measures to reduce waiting times the greatest footballer of all time the movie’s two-hour running time three times out of ten travel through time two hours behind Central European Time At no time did I give my consent to the plan. Clap your hands to keep time. Have I called at a bad time? He failed the test three times. How many times do I have to tell you not to do that? I remember one time we had to abandon our car in the snow. I think it’s time to go to bed. It’s time the kids were in bed. She always plays in/​out of time. The Industrial Revolution took place in Victorian times. The early morning is the best time of day. The rise in gun sales is an alarming sign of the times. The train arrived right on time. The violence of our times is nothing new. There were times—sometimes whole weeks—when I thought it wasn’t worth trying to complete the project. Try and dance in time to the music.Idioms
    (and) about time (too), (and) not before time
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    used to say that something should have happened before now
    if you do something against time, you do it as fast as you can because you do not have much time They're working against time to try and get people out of the rubble alive. earlier/later than was expected We finished 15 minutes ahead of time. having advanced or new ideas that other people use or copy later
      all the time, the whole time
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    1. 1  during the whole of a particular period of time The letter was in my pocket all the time (= while I was looking for it).
    2. 2  very often; repeatedly She leaves the lights on all the time.
     always Our representatives are ready to help you at all times. even when the circumstances are very good He's never very happy at the best of times—he'll be much worse now!
    1. 1  at one time; together She was laughing and crying at the same time.
    2. 2  used to introduce a contrasting fact, etc. that must be considered You have to be firm, but at the same time you should try and be sympathetic.
     separately or in groups of two, three, etc. on each occasion We had to go and see the principal one at a time. She ran up the stairs two at a time.
    at my, your, his, etc. time of life
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    at the age you are (especially when you are not young) Eyesight doesn't get any better at my time of life.
     sometimes He can be really bad-tempered at times. The rain will become heavy at times in the afternoon.
    beat time (to something)
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    to mark or follow the rhythm of music, by waving a stick, tapping your foot, etc. She beat time with her fingers.
      before my, your, his, etc. time
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    1. 1happening before you were born or can remember or before you lived, worked, etc. somewhere ‘Were you taught by Professor Pascal?’ ‘No, he was before my time.’
    2. 2before the usual time in somebody’s life when something happens synonym prematurely She got old before her time.
    old-fashioned in your ideas, methods, etc.
      be (living) on borrowed time
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    1. 1to still be alive after the time when you were expected to die He’s been living on borrowed time ever since his last heart attack.
    2. 2to be doing something that other people are likely to soon stop you from doing According to the latest opinion polls, the government is living on borrowed time.
    (informal) used to encourage somebody who has not been successful at something to wait for the right time to do something He decided to bide his time until he got an opportunity to talk to her alone. to do something in order to delay an event, a decision, etc. The negotiators kept the gunman talking to buy time for the hostages.
    call time (on something)
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    (British English) to say or decide that it is time for something to finish
    (old-fashioned) a very difficult or unpleasant job or time I've had a devil of a job finding you. (informal) to spend time in prison See related entries: Prison whenever there is a choice I don't really like cities—give me the countryside every time. if you do something for old times’ sake, you do it because it is connected with something good that happened to you in the past for a short period of time but not permanently You can leave your suitcase here for the time being.
    from that day/time forth
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    (literary) beginning on that day; from that time From that day forth she gave me endless friendship and encouragement.
     occasionally but not regularly She has to work at weekends from time to time. to delay something so that you can have more time to make a decision, deal with a problem, etc.
    give somebody a hard time
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    to deliberately make a situation difficult and unpleasant for somebody They really gave me a hard time at the interview.
    give me something/somebody (any day/time)
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    (informal) used to say that you prefer a particular thing or person to the one that has just been mentioned We don't go out much. Give me a quiet night in front of the TV any day!
    have an easy time (of it)
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    to have no difficulties or problems He’s had an easy time of it since he married Lucy.
    (old-fashioned, informal) to enjoy yourself very much
    have a lot of time for somebody/something
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    (informal, especially British English) to like and be interested in somebody/something I've always had a lot of time for Mary.
    have no time for somebody/something, not have much time for somebody/something
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    (informal) to dislike somebody/something I have no time for lazy people like Steve.
    have a thin time (of it)
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    (British English, informal) to have many problems or difficulties to deal with; to not be successful He’s had a thin time of it since losing his job.
    have the time of your life
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    (informal) to enjoy yourself very much
    have time on your hands, have time to kill
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    (informal) to have nothing to do or not be busy
    (informal) to enjoy yourself very much; to have a very good time The kids had a whale of a time at the theme park. when enough time has passed synonym eventually It is possible that in the course of time a cure for cancer will be found.
    in the fullness of time
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    when the time is appropriate, usually after a long period I have no doubt that she’ll tell us in the fullness of time.
    early; with enough time so that you are not in a hurry (informal) used to say that something will be done or will happen at the appropriate time and not before Be patient, Emily! All in good time. (informal) at the very last moment; just in time before something bad happens They escaped from the smoke-filled house just in the nick of time. between the ages of 90 and 99
    in (less than/next to) no time
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    so soon or so quickly that it is surprising The kids will be leaving home in no time.
    in your own sweet time/way
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    how and when you want to, even though this might annoy other people He always does the work, but in his own sweet time.
    in your own (good) time
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    (informal) when you are ready and not sooner Don't hassle him! He'll do it in his own good time.
    in your free time and not when you usually work or study after a period of time when a situation has changed synonym eventually They learned to accept their stepmother in time.
    in time (for something/to do something)
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     not late; with enough time to be able to do something Will we be in time for the six o'clock train? The ambulance got there just in time (= to save somebody's life).
     (informal) used to say that you think somebody should do something soon It's about time you cleaned your room!
    it’s just/only a matter of time (before…)
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    used to say that something will definitely happen, although you are not sure when It's only a matter of time before they bring out their own version of the software.
    keep up/move with the times
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    to change and develop your ideas, way of working, etc. so that you do what is modern and what is expected
    kill time, kill an hour, a couple of hours, etc.
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    to spend time doing something that is not important while you are waiting for something else to happen We killed time playing cards.
    (informal) used to say hello to somebody you have not seen for a long time to complete a journey quickly We made excellent time and arrived in Spain in two days. to do something quickly or very often because you wish you had started doing it sooner I’ll have to work hard now to make up for lost time.
    many a time, many’s the time (that)…
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    (old-fashioned) many times; frequently
    1. 1to pass the time while you wait for something more interesting I'm just marking time in this job—I'm hoping to get into journalism.
    2. 2(of soldiers) to make marching movements without moving forwards
    to change the way you think and behave according to changes in society Many complained that the Royal Family had failed to move with the times.
    (the) next, first, second, etc. time round
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    on the next, first, etc. occasion that the same thing happens He repeated none of the errors he'd made first time round. This time round it was not so easy.
    nine times out of ten, ninety-nine times out of a hundred
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    used to say that something is usually true or almost always happens Nine times out of ten she gives the right answer.
    = (and) about time (too)
    not give somebody the time of day
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    to refuse to speak to somebody because you do not like or respect them Since the success of her novel, people shake her hand who once wouldn't have given her the time of day.
    (there is) no time like the present
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    (saying) now is the best time to do something, not in the future
    that has ever existed Many rated him the best singer of all time. see also all-time used, especially at the beginning of stories, to mean ‘a long time in the past’ Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess.
    pass the time of day (with somebody)
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    to say hello to somebody and have a short conversation with them
    a race against time/the clock
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    a situation in which you have to do something or finish something very fast before it is too late Getting food to the starving refugees is now a race against time.
    something that you feel shows what things are like now, especially how bad they are The increasing number of people owning guns is an alarming sign of the times.
    a stitch in time (saves nine)
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    (saying) it is better to deal with something immediately because if you wait it may become worse or more difficult and cause extra work
    take it/things one day at a time
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    (informal) to not think about what will happen in the future I don't know if he'll get better. We're just taking it one day at a time.
      take your time (over something), take your time to do something/doing something
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    1. 1  to use as much time as you need without hurrying There's no rush—take your time.
    2. 2used to say you think somebody is late or is too slow in doing something You certainly took your time getting here!
    to spend some time away from your usual work or activity in order to rest or do something else instead She is taking time out from her music career for a year. Synonymsrestbreak respite time out breathing spaceThese are all words for a short period of time spent relaxing.rest a period of relaxing, sleeping or doing nothing after a period of activity:We stopped for a well-earned rest.break a short period of time when you stop what you are doing and rest or eat:Let’s take a break. In British English break is a period of time between lessons at school. The North American English word is recess.respite a short break from something difficult or unpleasant:The drug brought a brief respite from the pain.time out (informal, especially North American English) time for resting or relaxing away from your usual work or studies:Take time out to relax by the pool.breathing space a short rest in the middle of a period of mental or physical effort:This delay gives the party a breathing space in which to sort out its policies.Patterns (a) rest/​break/​respite/​time out from something to have/​take (a) rest/​break/​time out to give somebody (a) rest/​break/​respite/​breathing space
    there’s a first time for everything
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    (saying, humorous) the fact that something has not happened before does not mean that it will never happen
    third time lucky (US English third time is the charm)
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    used when you have failed to do something twice and hope that you will succeed the third time
    time after time, time and (time) again
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    often; on many or all occasions You will get a perfect result time after time if you follow these instructions.
    one and a half times the usual rate of pay We get time and a half on Sundays. see also double time (saying) time seems to pass very quickly How time flies! I've got to go now. Time has flown since the holiday began. This phrase is a translation of the Latin ‘tempus fugit’. (saying) time is valuable, and should not be wasted used to say that somebody can wait for something to happen or can wait before doing something (old-fashioned) used to say that something used to happen in the past Time was when you could go for a walk in the country and not see another person for miles.
    time (alone) will tell, only time will tell
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    (saying) used to say that you will have to wait for some time to find out the result of a situation Only time will tell if the treatment has been successful.
    = all the time
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: time