[ouuh r, ou-er]
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. any specific time of day; the time indicated by a timepiece: What is the hour?
  4. a short or limited period of time: He savored his hour of glory.
  5. a particular or appointed time: What was the hour of death? At what hour do you open?
  6. a customary or usual time: When is your dinner hour?
  7. the present time: the man of the hour.
  8. hours,
    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.
  9. distance normally covered in an hour's traveling: We live about an hour from the city.
  10. Astronomy. a unit of measure of right ascension representing 15°, or the twenty-fourth part of a great circle.
  11. a single period, as of class instruction or therapeutic consultation, usually lasting from 40 to 55 minutes.Compare clock-hour.
  12. 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.
  13. the Hours, Classical Mythology. the Horae.
  1. of, relating to, or noting an hour.
  1. 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 formshour·less, adjective
Can be confusedare hour our
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for hours

Contemporary Examples of hours

Historical Examples of hours

  • 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.


    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

  • How many hours in the twenty-four do you devote to your needle?

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

British Dictionary definitions for hours


pl n
  1. a period regularly or customarily appointed for work, business, etc
  2. one's times of rising and going to bed (esp in the phrases keep regular, irregular, or late hours)
  3. an indefinite period of time
  4. 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
  5. the small hours the hours just after midnight
  6. till all hours until very late


pl n
  1. another word for the Horae


  1. a period of time equal to 3600 seconds; 1/24 th of a calendar dayRelated adjectives: horal, horary
  2. any of the points on the face of a timepiece that indicate intervals of 60 minutes
  3. the hour an exact number of complete hoursthe bus leaves on the hour
  4. the time of day as indicated by a watch, clock, etc
  5. the period of time allowed for or used for somethingthe lunch hour; the hour of prayer
  6. a special moment or periodour finest hour
  7. the hour the present timethe man of the hour
  8. the distance covered in an hourwe live an hour from the city
  9. astronomy an angular measurement of right ascension equal to 15° or a 24th part of the celestial equator
  10. one's hour
    1. a time of success, fame, etc
    2. Also: one's last hourthe time of one's deathhis hour had come
  11. take one's hour Irish informal to do something in a leisurely manner
See also hours

Word Origin for hour

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

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

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 124 of a sidereal day, and a mean solar hour is 124 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 124 of a great circle.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with hours


see after hours; all hours; by the day (hour); eleventh hour; happy hour; keep late hours; on the hour; small hours.

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