Definition of time noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



see also times

minutes/hours/years, etc.

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 spaceAs 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 Time2 [uncountable] the time shown on a clock in minutes and hoursWhat time is it?Do you have the time?What time do you have?The time is now ten-thirty.Can she tell time yet (= say what time it is by looking at a clock)?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 [uncountable] the time measured in a particular part of the worldGreenwich Mean Time6 o'clock local time see also daylight saving time, standard time4 [uncountable, countable] the time when something happens or when something should happenWhat 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? Should I call back later?The promotion came at just the right time for me.We carry six different beers at any one time. see also anytime, closing time, drive time, nighttime


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 figured 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 time6 a time [singular] a period of time, either long or short, during which you do something or something happensHis 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).7 [uncountable, plural] a period of history connected with particular events or experiences in people's livesThe movie is set at the time of the Russian ancient timesthe 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


8 [countable] an occasion when you do something or when something happensEvery 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?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 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 Chicago.This is the first time for me to go to Chicago. That was the last time (that) I saw her.9 [countable] an event or occasion that you experience in a particular wayDid you have a good time in Spain?I had an awful time in the hospital.Mike and I shared some really good times.

for race

10 [countable, uncountable] how long someone takes to run a race or complete an eventThe winner's time was 11.6 seconds.She completed the 500 meters in record time (= faster than any previous runner).one of the fastest times ever

in music

11 [uncountable] the number of beats in a bar/measure of musicThis piece is in four-four time.a slow waltz timeThe conductor beat time with a baton.12 [uncountable] the correct speed and rhythm of a piece of musicTry and dance in time to the music (= with the same speed and rhythm).Clap your hands to keep time (= sing or play 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

about time

used to say that something should have happened before now
about time

against time

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.against time

ahead of/behind time

earlier/later than was expected
We finished 15 minutes ahead of time.ahead of timeahead behind time

ahead of your time

having advanced or new ideas that other people use or copy later
ahead of your time

all the time


the whole time

1 during the whole of a particular period of timeThe letter was in my pocket all the time (= while I was looking for it).2 very often; repeatedlyShe leaves the lights on all the time.all the time

at all times

Our representatives are ready to help you at all all times

at the best of times

even when the circumstances are very good
He's never very happy at the best of times—he'll be much worse now!at the best of times

at the same time

1 at one time; togetherShe was laughing and crying at the same time.2 used to introduce a contrasting fact, etc. that must be consideredYou have to be firm, but at the same time you should try and be the same time

at a time

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 a time

at my, your, his, etc. time of life

at the age you are (especially when you are not young)
Eyesight doesn't get any better at my time of my, your, his, etc. time of life

at times

He can be really bad-tempered at times.The rain will become heavy at times in the times

beat time (to something)

to mark or follow the rhythm of music, by waving a stick, tapping your foot, etc.
She beat time with her fingers.beat timebeat time to

before my, your, his, etc. time

1 happening 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 before the usual time in someone's life when something happens synonym prematurelyShe got old before her time.before my, your, his, etc. time

behind the times

old-fashioned in your ideas, methods, etc.
behind the times

be (living) on borrowed time

1 to still be alive after the time when you were expected to dieHe's been living on borrowed time ever since his last heart attack.2 to be doing something that other people are likely to stop you from doing soonAccording to the latest opinion polls, the government is living on borrowed on borrowed timebe living on borrowed time

better luck next time

(informal) used to encourage someone who has not been successful at somethingbetter luck next time

bide your time

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.bide your time

buy time

to do something in order to delay an event, a decision, etc.
The negotiators kept the gunman talking to buy time for the time

a devil of a time

(old-fashioned) a very difficult or unpleasant timeI've had a devil of a time finding you.a devil of a time

do time

(informal) to spend time in prisondo time

every time

whenever there is a choice
I don't really like cities—give me the countryside every time.every time

for old times' sake

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 old times' sake

for the time being

for a short period of time but not permanently
You can leave your suitcase here for the time being.for the time being

from that day/time forth

(literary) beginning on that day; from that timeFrom that day forth she gave me endless friendship and encouragement.from that day forthfrom that time forth

from time to time

occasionally but not regularly
She has to work on weekends from time to time.from time to time

gain time

to delay something so that you can have more time to make a decision, deal with a problem, etc.
gain time

give someone a hard time

to deliberately make a situation difficult and unpleasant for someone
They really gave me a hard time at the interview.give a hard time

give me something/someone (any day/time)

(informal) used to say that you prefer a particular thing or person to the one that has just been mentionedWe don't go out much. Give me a quiet night in front of the TV any day!give megive me any daygive megive me any time

have an easy time (of it)

to have no difficulties or problems
He's had an easy time of it since he married Lucy.have an easy timehave an easy time of it

have a high old time

(old-fashioned, informal) to enjoy yourself very muchhave a high old time

have no time for someone/something


not have much time for someone/something

(informal) to dislike someone or somethingI have no time for lazy people like Steve.have no time for

have the time of your life

(informal) to enjoy yourself very muchhave the time of your life

have time on your hands


have time to kill

(informal) to have nothing to do or not be busyhave time on your hands

in the course of time

when enough time has passed
synonym eventuallyIt is possible that in the course of time a cure for cancer will be the course of time

in the fullness of time

when the time is appropriate, usually after a long period
I have no doubt that she'll tell us in the fullness of the fullness of time

in good time

early; with enough time so that you are not in a hurry
in good time

(all) in good time

(informal) used to say that something will be done or will happen at the appropriate time and not beforeBe patient, Emily! All in good good timeall in good time

in the nick of time

(informal) at the very last moment; just in time before something bad happensThey escaped from the smoke-filled house just in the nick of the nick of time

in (less than/next to) no time

so soon or so quickly that it is surprising
The kids will be leaving home in no no timein less than to no timein no timein less next to no time

in your own sweet time/way

how and when you want to, even though this might annoy other people
He always does the work, but in his own sweet your own sweet timein your own sweet way

in your own (good) time

(informal) when you are ready and not soonerDon't hassle him! He'll do it in his own good your own timein your own good time

in time

after a period of time when a situation has changed
synonym eventuallyThey learned to accept their stepmother in time

in time (for something/to do something)

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 someone's life).in timein time for doin timein time for to do

it's about/high time

(informal) used to say that you think someone should do something soonIt's time you cleaned your room!it's about timeit's high time

it's just/only a matter of time (before…)

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's just a matter of timeit's just a matter of time beforeit's only a matter of timeit's only a matter of time before

keep up/move with the times

to change and develop your ideas, way of working, etc. so that you do what is modern and what is expected
keep up with the timeskeep move with the times

kill time


kill an hour, a couple of hours, etc.

to spend time doing something that is not important while you are waiting for something else to happen
We killed time playing cards.kill time

long time no see

(informal) used to say hello to someone you have not seen for a long timelong time no see

make good, etc. time

to complete a journey quickly
We made excellent time and arrived in Spain in two days.make good, etc. time

make up for lost time

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.make up for lost time

many a time


many's the time (that)…

(old-fashioned) many times; frequentlymany a time

mark time

1 to pass the time while you wait for something more interestingI'm just marking time in this job—I'm hoping to get into journalism.2 (of soldiers) to make marching movements without moving forwardmark time

move with the times

to change the way you think and behave according to changes in society
Many complained that the Heritage Association had failed to move with the times.move with the times

(the) next, first, second, etc. time around

on the next, first, etc. occasion that the same thing happens
He repeated none of the errors he'd made first time around.This time around it was not so, first, second, etc. time aroundthe next, first, second, etc. time around

nine times out of ten


ninety-nine times out of a hundred

used to say that something is usually true or almost always happens
Nine times out of ten she gives the right answer.nine times out of ten

not give someone the time of day

to refuse to speak to someone 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.not give the time of day

(there is) no time like the present

(saying) now is the best time to do something, not in the futureno time like the presentthere is no time like the present

of all time

that has ever existed
Many rated him the best singer of all time. see also all-timeof all time

once upon a 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.once upon a time

on your own time

in your free time and not when you usually work or study
on your own time

pass the time of day (with someone)

to say hello to someone and have a short conversation with them
pass the time of daypass the time of day with

a race against time/the clock

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.a race against time clocka race against the clock

a sign of the times

something that you feel shows what things are like now, especially how bad they are
The growing number of people who own guns is an alarming sign of the times.a sign of the times

a stitch in time (saves nine)

(saying) it is better to deal with something immediately because if you wait it may become worse or more difficult and cause extra worka stitch in timea stitch in time saves nine

take it/things one day at a time

(informal) to not think about what will happen in the futureI don't know if he'll get better. We're just taking it one day at a time.take it one day at a timetake things one day at a time

take your time


take your time to do something/doing something

1 to use as much time as you need without hurryingThere's no rush—take your time.2 used to say you think someone is late or is too slow in doing somethingYou certainly took your time getting here!take your time

take time out

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.take time out

there's a first time for everything

(saying, humorous) the fact that something has not happened before does not mean that it will never happenthere's a first time for everything

third time is the charm

used when you have failed to do something twice and hope that you will succeed the third time
third time is the charm

time after time


time and (time) again

often; on many or all occasions
You will get a perfect result time after time if you follow these instructions.time after time

time and a half

one and a half times the usual rate of pay
We get time and a half on Sundays. see also double timetime and a half

time flies

(saying) time seems to pass very quicklyHow time flies! I have to go now.Time has flown since the vacation began. origin This phrase is a translation of the Latin “tempus fugit.”time flies

time is money

(saying) time is valuable, and should not be wastedtime is money

time is on your side

used to say that someone can wait for something to happen or can wait before doing something
time is on your side

time was (when)…

(old-fashioned) used to say that something used to happen in the pastTime was when you could go for a walk in the country and not see another person for miles.time wastime was when

(only) time will tell

(saying) used to say that you will have to wait for some time to find out the result of a situationOnly time will tell if the treatment has been successful.time will tellonly time will tell

the whole time

= all the timethe whole time