against time, in an effort to finish something within a limited period: We worked against time to get out the newspaper.
    ahead of time, before the time due; early: The building was completed ahead of time.
    at one time,
    1. once; in a former time: At one time they owned a restaurant.
    2. at the same time; at once: They all tried to talk at one time.
    at the same time, nevertheless; yet: I'd like to try it, but at the same time I'm a little afraid.
    at times, at intervals; occasionally: At times the city becomes intolerable.
    beat someone's time, Slang. to compete for or win a person being dated or courted by another; prevail over a rival: He accused me, his own brother, of trying to beat his time.
    behind the times, old-fashioned; dated: These attitudes are behind the times.
    for the time being, temporarily; for the present: Let's forget about it for the time being.
    from time to time, on occasion; occasionally; at intervals: She comes to see us from time to time.
    gain time, to postpone in order to make preparations or gain an advantage; delay the outcome of: He hoped to gain time by putting off signing the papers for a few days more.
    in good time,
    1. at the right time; on time; punctually.
    2. in advance of the right time; early: We arrived at the appointed spot in good time.
    in no time, in a very brief time; almost at once: Working together, they cleaned the entire house in no time.
    in time,
    1. early enough: to come in time for dinner.
    2. in the future; eventually: In time he'll see what is right.
    3. in the correct rhythm or tempo: There would always be at least one child who couldn't play in time with the music.
    keep time,
    1. to record time, as a watch or clock does.
    2. to mark or observe the tempo.
    3. to perform rhythmic movements in unison.
    kill time, to occupy oneself with some activity to make time pass quickly: While I was waiting, I killed time counting the cars on the freight trains.
    make time,
    1. to move quickly, especially in an attempt to recover lost time.
    2. to travel at a particular speed.
    make time with, Slang. to pursue or take as a sexual partner.
    many a time, again and again; frequently: Many a time they didn't have enough to eat and went to bed hungry.
    mark time,
    1. to suspend progress temporarily, as to await developments; fail to advance.
    2. move the feet alternately as in marching, but without advancing.
    on one's own time, during one's free time; without payment: He worked out more efficient production methods on his own time.
    on time,
    1. at the specified time; punctually.
    2. to be paid for within a designated period of time, as in installments: Many people are never out of debt because they buy everything on time.
    out of time, not in the proper rhythm: His singing was out of time with the music.
    pass the time of day, to converse briefly with or greet someone: The women would stop in the market to pass the time of day.
    take one's time, to be slow or leisurely; dawdle: Speed was important here, but he just took his time.
    time after time, again and again; repeatedly; often: I've told him time after time not to slam the door.
    time and time again, repeatedly; often: Time and time again I warned her to stop smoking.Also time and again.
    time of life, (one's) age: At your time of life you must be careful not to overdo things.
    time of one's life, Informal. an extremely enjoyable experience: They had the time of their lives on their trip to Europe.

Origin of time

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English tīma; cognate with Old Norse tīmi; (verb) Middle English timen to arrange a time, derivative of the noun; akin to tide1
Related formsre·time, verb (used with object), re·timed, re·tim·ing.un·timed, adjective
Can be confusedthyme time

Synonyms for time

4. term, spell, span. 6. epoch, era. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for time

Contemporary Examples of time

Historical Examples of time

  • The old man read it and for a time mused himself into seeming oblivion.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • There was no time barren enough of sensation to reason about it.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • And he had hoped so cheerfully all the time to do something.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • A second and a third time the Ethiopian touched him with his wand, and spoke in whispers.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Oh, I was an Indian in my time—a reg'ler measly hop-pickin' Siwash at that.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for time



  1. the continuous passage of existence in which events pass from a state of potentiality in the future, through the present, to a state of finality in the past
  2. (as modifier)time travel Related adjective: temporal
physics a quantity measuring duration, usually with reference to a periodic process such as the rotation of the earth or the vibration of electromagnetic radiation emitted from certain atoms. In classical mechanics, time is absolute in the sense that the time of an event is independent of the observer. According to the theory of relativity it depends on the observer's frame of reference. Time is considered as a fourth coordinate required, along with three spatial coordinates, to specify an eventSee caesium clock, second 2 (def. 1), space-time
a specific point on this continuum expressed in terms of hours and minutesthe time is four o'clock
a system of reckoning for expressing timeGreenwich mean time
  1. a definite and measurable portion of this continuum
  2. (as modifier)time limit
  1. an accepted period such as a day, season, etc
  2. (in combination)springtime
an unspecified interval; a whileI was there for a time
(often plural) a period or point marked by specific attributes or eventsthe Victorian times; time for breakfast
a sufficient interval or periodhave you got time to help me?
an instance or occasionI called you three times
an occasion or period of specified qualityhave a good time; a miserable time
the duration of human existence
the heyday of human lifein her time she was a great star
a suitable period or momentit's time I told you
the expected interval in which something is donethe flying time from New York to London was seven hours
a particularly important moment, esp childbirth or deathher time had come
(plural) indicating a degree or amount calculated by multiplication with the number specifiedten times three is thirty; he earns four times as much as me
(often plural) the fashions, thought, etc, of the present age (esp in the phrases ahead of one's time, behind the times)
British (in bars, pubs, etc) short for closing time
informal a term in jail (esp in the phrase do time)
  1. a customary or full period of work
  2. the rate of pay for this period
Also (esp US): metre
  1. the system of combining beats or pulses in music into successive groupings by which the rhythm of the music is established
  2. a specific system having a specific number of beats in each grouping or barduple time
music short for time value
prosody a unit of duration used in the measurement of poetic metre; mora
against time in an effort to complete something in a limited period
ahead of time before the deadline
all in good time in due course
all the time continuously
at one time
  1. once; formerly
  2. simultaneously
at the same time
  1. simultaneously
  2. nevertheless; however
at times sometimes
beat time (of a conductor, etc) to indicate the tempo or pulse of a piece of music by waving a baton or a hand, tapping out the beats, etc
before one's time prematurely
for the time being for the moment; temporarily
from time to time at intervals; occasionally
gain time See gain 1 (def. 9)
have no time for to have no patience with; not tolerate
in good time
  1. early
  2. quickly
in no time very quickly; almost instantaneously
in one's own time
  1. outside paid working hours
  2. at one's own rate
in time
  1. early or at the appointed time
  2. eventually
  3. musicat a correct metrical or rhythmic pulse
keep time to observe correctly the accent or rhythmic pulse of a piece of music in relation to tempo
lose time (of a timepiece) to operate too slowly
lose no time to do something without delay
make time
  1. to find an opportunity
  2. (often foll by with) US informalto succeed in seducing
in the nick of time at the last possible moment; at the critical moment
on time
  1. at the expected or scheduled time
  2. USpayable in instalments
pass the time of day to exchange casual greetings (with an acquaintance)
time about Scot alternately; turn and turn about
time and again frequently
time off a period when one is absent from work for a holiday, through sickness, etc
time on Australian an additional period played at the end of a match, to compensate for time lost through injury or (in certain circumstances) to allow the teams to achieve a conclusive resultAlso called (in Britain and certain other countries): extra time
time out of mind from time immemorial
time of one's life a memorably enjoyable time
(modifier) operating automatically at or for a set time, for security or conveniencetime lock; time switch

verb (tr)

to ascertain or calculate the duration or speed of
to set a time for
to adjust to keep accurate time
to pick a suitable time for
sport to control the execution or speed of (an action, esp a shot or stroke) so that it has its full effect at the right moment


the word called out by a publican signalling that it is closing time

Word Origin for time

Old English tīma; related to Old English tīd time, Old Norse tīmi, Alemannic zīme; see tide 1
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 time

Old English tima "limited space of time," from Proto-Germanic *timon "time" (cf. Old Norse timi "time, proper time," Swedish timme "an hour"), from PIE *di-mon-, from root *da- "cut up, divide" (see tide).

Abstract sense of "time as an indefinite continuous duration" is recorded from late 14c. Personified since at least 1509 as an aged bald man (but with a forelock) carrying a scythe and an hour-glass. In English, a single word encompasses time as "extent" and "point" (French temps/fois, German zeit/mal) as well as "hour" (e.g. "what time is it?" cf. French heure, German Uhr). Extended senses such as "occasion," "the right time," "leisure," or times (v.) "multiplied by" developed in Old and Middle English, probably as a natural outgrowth of phrases like, "He commends her a hundred times to God" (Old French La comande a Deu cent foiz).

to have a good time ( = a time of enjoyment) was common in Eng. from c 1520 to c 1688; it was app. retained in America, whence readopted in Britain in 19th c. [OED]

Time of day (now mainly preserved in negation, i.e. what someone won't give you if he doesn't like you) was a popular 17c. salutation (e.g. "Good time of day vnto your Royall Grace," "Richard III," I.iii.18). Times as the name of a newspaper dates from 1788. Time warp first attested 1954; time capsule first recorded 1938, in reference to New York World's Fair; time-traveling in the science fiction sense first recorded 1895 in H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine." To do time "serve a prison sentence" is from 1865. Time frame is attested by 1964; time line (also timeline) by 1890; time-limit is from 1880. About time, ironically for "long past due time," is recorded from 1920. Behind the times "old-fashioned" is recorded from 1846, first attested in Dickens.


Old English getimian "to happen, befall," from time (n.). Meaning "to appoint a time" (of an action, etc.) is attested from c.1300; sense of "to record the time of" (a race, event, etc.) is first attested 1660s. Related: Timed; timing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

time in Medicine




A duration or relation of events expressed in terms of past, present, and future, and measured in units such as minutes, hours, days, months, or years.
A certain period during which something is done.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

time in Science



A continuous, measurable quantity in which events occur in a sequence proceeding from the past through the present to the future. See Note at space-time.
  1. An interval separating two points of this quantity; a duration.
  2. A system or reference frame in which such intervals are measured or such quantities are calculated.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with time


In addition to the idioms beginning with time

  • time after time
  • time and a half
  • time and tide wait for no man
  • time bomb
  • time flies
  • time hangs heavy
  • time immemorial
  • time is money
  • time is ripe
  • time is up
  • time of day
  • time off
  • time of one's life
  • time on one's hands
  • time out
  • time out of mind
  • time warp
  • time was
  • time will tell

also see:

  • about time
  • against the clock (time)
  • ahead of one's time
  • ahead of time
  • all the time
  • at all times
  • at one time
  • at one time or another
  • at the same time
  • at this point (in time)
  • at times
  • beat time
  • behind in (time)
  • behind the times
  • bide one's time
  • big time
  • buy time
  • call one's (time one's) own
  • chow down (time)
  • crunch time
  • do time
  • every time one turns around
  • for the moment (time being)
  • from time to time
  • good-time Charlie
  • hard time
  • have a good time
  • high time
  • in between times
  • in due course (of time)
  • in good time
  • in no time
  • in the fullness of time
  • in the nick of time
  • in time
  • keep time
  • keep up (with the times)
  • kill time
  • less than (no time)
  • long time no see
  • lose time
  • make good time
  • make time
  • make up for lost time
  • many is the (time)
  • mark time
  • not give someone the time of day
  • no time for
  • no time like the present
  • of one's life, time
  • on borrowed time
  • once upon a time
  • one by one (at a time)
  • on one's own time
  • on time
  • pass the time
  • play for time
  • point in time
  • pressed for time
  • serve time
  • show someone a good time
  • small time
  • stitch in time
  • take one's time
  • take up space (time)
  • tell time
  • whale of a time
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.