American English

Definition of hour noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1Use an, not a, before hour. [countable] (abbreviation hr, hr.) 60 minutes; one of the 24 parts that a day is divided into It will take about an hour to get there. The interview lasted half an hour. It was a three-hour exam. I waited for an hour and then I left. He'll be back in an hour. We're paid by the hour. The minimum wage was set at $7.25 an hour. Top speed is 120 miles per hour. New York was within an hour's drive. Chicago is two hours away (= it takes two hours to get there). We're four hours ahead of Boston (= referring to the time difference). We hope to be there within the hour (= in less than an hour).
  2. 2[countable, usually singular] a period of about an hour, used for a particular purpose I use the Internet at work, during my lunch hour. see also happy hour, rush hour
  3. 3hours [plural] a fixed period of time during which people work, an office is open, etc. Store hours are from 10 to 6 each day. Most people in this kind of job tend to work long hours. What are your office hours? a hospital's visiting hours This is the only place to get a drink after hours (= after the normal closing time for bars). Clients can now contact us by e-mail after hours (= when the business is closed). see also after-hours
  4. 4[singular] a particular point in time You can't turn him away at this hour of the night.
  5. 5hours [plural] a long time It took hours getting there. I've been waiting for hours. “How long did it last?” “Oh,hours and hours.”
  6. 6[countable, usually singular] the time when something important happens This was often thought of as the country's finest hour. She thought her last hour had come. Don't desert me in my hour of need.
  7. 7the hour [singular] the time when it is exactly 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, etc. There's a bus every hour on the hour. The clock struck the hour.
  8. 8hours [plural] used when giving the time according to the 24-hour clock, usually in military or other official language The first missile was launched at 23:00 hours (= at 11 p.m.). This is pronounced “23 hundred hours”.
  9. Idioms any time, especially a time that is not usual or suitable He's started staying out till all hours (= until very late at night). She thinks she can call me at all hours of the day and night.
    at the eleventh hour
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    at the last possible moment; just in time
    at an unearthly hour (informal)
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    very early, especially when this is annoying The job involved getting up at some unearthly hour to catch the first train.
    at an ungodly hour/time
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    very early or very late and therefore annoying
    before/after the hour
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    used in giving the time to say the number of minutes before or after a particular hour It's twenty minutes before/after the hour (=11:40/12:20, 12:40/13:20, etc.) .
    keep… hours
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    if you keep regular, strange, etc. hours, the times at which you do things (especially getting up or going to bed) are regular, strange, etc.
    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.
    of the hour
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    (of a person, an issue, etc.) very famous and talked about a lot now Jeff was the man of the hour today.
    the small/early hours (also the wee hours)
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    the period of time very early in the morning, soon after midnight We worked well into the small hours. The fighting began in the early hours of Saturday morning.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: hour