[ af-ter-ouuhrz, -ou-erz, ahf- ]
/ ˈæf tərˈaʊərz, -ˈaʊ ərz, ˈɑf- /
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occurring, engaged in, or operating after the normal or legal closing time for business: an after-hours drinking club.
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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of after-hours

First recorded in 1925–30
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does after-hours mean?

After-hours describes something that happens after normal or legal hours of operation for a business or service, as in The after-hours party starts as soon as the bar closes for the night.

After-hours can describe something that happens after its normal time, such as a business meeting that takes place after the close of the business day. In the US, many business offices close at 5 pm. A meeting that took place at 7 pm, for example, would be an after-hours meeting.

After-hours can also describe something that happens after the allotted time. It’s generally used in situations in which something can be conducted after a business or program has ended and will still be honored. This use is most often used in reference to the stock market and investing, such as in the phrase after-hours trading. The New York Stock Exchange, for example, is only open from 9:30 am to 4 pm, but trading can be conducted at any time of the day.

Finally, after-hours can simply describe something that happens late at night. You might find a restaurant that serves an after-hours breakfast, meaning they serve breakfast foods late at night, especially after midnight.

Example: Joanie tried after-hours trading but found that she made more money during regular trading hours.

Where does after-hours come from?

The first records of the term after-hours come from around the 1920s. It combines the term after, meaning “later in time than,” and hours, meaning “a period regularly appointed for work.”

One common use of after-hours is for after-hours clubs. For example, most bars, taverns, and pubs in the United States close at 2 am due to state regulations. An after-hours club is open after the bars close and focus on music and dancing.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to after-hours?

What are some synonyms for after-hours?

What are some words that share a root or word element with after-hours

What are some words that often get used in discussing after-hours?

How is after-hours used in real life?

When referring to stock trading, after-hours is sometimes used with a cautionary tone or in determined planning. When referring to something happening after a business closes, after-hours can be positive, as in an event, but can also be negative, as in an incident after closing time.


Try using after-hours!

True or False?

Meeting with a company worker when they are on break is an after-hours meeting.

How to use after-hours in a sentence

Other Idioms and Phrases with after-hours

after hours

After normal working hours, after closing time; also, after legal or established opening hours. For example, I haven't time while the shop is open, but I can see you after hours, or The restaurant employees sometimes stayed for a meal after hours. This term originally referred to laws governing business hours. It also gave rise to the term after-hours club, for a drinking club that remained open later than similar establishments. [Mid-1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.