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[ouuh r, ou-er] /aʊər, ˈaʊ ər/
a period of time equal to one twenty-fourth of a mean solar or civil day and equivalent to 60 minutes:
He slept for an hour.
any specific one of these 24 periods, usually reckoned in two series of 12, one series from midnight to noon and the second from noon to midnight, but sometimes reckoned in one series of 24, from midnight to midnight:
He slept for the hour between 2 and 3 a.m. The hour for the bombardment was between 1300 and 1400.
any specific time of day; the time indicated by a timepiece:
What is the hour?
a short or limited period of time:
He savored his hour of glory.
a particular or appointed time:
What was the hour of death? At what hour do you open?
a customary or usual time:
When is your dinner hour?
the present time:
the man of the hour.
  1. time spent in an office, factory, or the like, or for work, study, etc.:
    The doctor's hours were from 10 to 4. What an employee does after hours is his or her own business.
  2. customary time of going to bed and getting up:
    to keep late hours.
  3. (in the Christian church) the seven stated times of the day for prayer and devotion.
  4. the offices or services prescribed for these times.
  5. a book containing them.
distance normally covered in an hour's traveling:
We live about an hour from the city.
Astronomy. a unit of measure of right ascension representing 15°, or the twenty-fourth part of a great circle.
a single period, as of class instruction or therapeutic consultation, usually lasting from 40 to 55 minutes.
Compare clock-hour.
Education.. Also called credit hour. one unit of academic credit, usually representing attendance at one scheduled period of instruction per week throughout a semester, quarter, or term.
the Hours, Classical Mythology. the Horae.
of, relating to, or noting an hour.
one's hour,
  1. Also, one's last hour. the instant of death:
    The sick man knew that his hour had come.
  2. any crucial moment.
Origin of hour
1175-1225; Middle English (h)oure < Anglo-French; Old French (h)ore < Latin hōra < Greek hṓrā time, season
Related forms
hourless, adjective
Can be confused
are, hour, our. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hours
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • After a year of that, he'll be taken into the office and his hours will be cut down to eight.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • Found it rather long hours watching, namely, about four hours each.

  • I think he spends hours in that boat, and what he does I can't conceive.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • But the evils regarding the hours of study and the nature of the studies were as bad.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • Bight hours was the time Mr. Gladstone permitted himself to sleep.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
British Dictionary definitions for hours


plural noun
a period regularly or customarily appointed for work, business, etc
one's times of rising and going to bed (esp in the phrases keep regular, irregular, or late hours)
an indefinite period of time
Also called (in the Roman Catholic Church) canonical hours
  1. the seven times of the day laid down for the recitation of the prayers of the divine office
  2. the prayers recited at these times
the small hours, the hours just after midnight
till all hours, until very late


plural noun
another word for the Horae


a period of time equal to 3600 seconds; 1/24th of a calendar day related adjectives horal horary
any of the points on the face of a timepiece that indicate intervals of 60 minutes
the hour, an exact number of complete hours: the bus leaves on the hour
the time of day as indicated by a watch, clock, etc
the period of time allowed for or used for something: the lunch hour, the hour of prayer
a special moment or period: our finest hour
the hour, the present time: the man of the hour
the distance covered in an hour: we live an hour from the city
(astronomy) an angular measurement of right ascension equal to 15° or a 24th part of the celestial equator
one's hour
  1. a time of success, fame, etc
  2. Also one's last hour. the time of one's death: his hour had come
(Irish, informal) take one's hour, to do something in a leisurely manner
See also hours
Word Origin
C13: from Old French hore, from Latin hōra, from Greek: season
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hours



mid-13c., from Old French hore "one-twelfth of a day" (sunrise to sunset), from Latin hora "hour, time, season," from Greek hora "any limited time," from PIE *yor-a-, from root *yer- "year, season" (see year). Greek hora was "a season; 'the season;'" in classical times, sometimes, "a part of the day," such as morning, evening, noon, night. The Greek astronomers apparently borrowed the notion of dividing the day into twelve parts (mentioned in Herodotus) from the Babylonians (night continued to be divided into four watches), but as the amount of daylight changed throughout the year, the hours were not fixed or of equal length. Equinoctal hours did not become established in Europe until the 4c., and as late as 16c. distinction sometimes was made between temporary (unequal) hours and sidereal (equal) ones. The h- has persisted in this word despite not being pronounced since Roman times. Replaced Old English tid, literally "time," and stund "period of time." As a measure of distance ("the distance that can be covered in an hour") it is recorded from 1785.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hours in Science
  1. A unit of time equal to one of the 24 equal parts of a day; 60 minutes. ◇ A sidereal hour is 1/24 of a sidereal day, and a mean solar hour is 1/24 of a mean solar day. See more at sidereal time, solar time.

  2. A unit of measure of longitude or right ascension, equal to 15° or 1/24 of a great circle.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for hours


Related Terms

dead hour

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with hours
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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