tell time

Keep track of the hours; also, know how to read a clock or watch. For example, This old clock still tells time quite accurately, or He taught his niece to tell time by using a cuckoo clock. This expression uses tell in the sense of “reckon” or “calculate,” a usage dating from about a.d. 1000.


Nearby words

  1. tell me,
  2. tell off,
  3. tell on,
  4. tell someone where to get off,
  5. tell tales,
  6. tell, william,
  7. tell-all,
  8. tellable,
  9. teller,
  10. teller, edward

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