or time-out

[ tahym-out ]
See synonyms for timeout on Thesaurus.com
noun,plural time·outs.
  1. a brief suspension of activity; intermission or break.

  2. Sports. a short interruption in a regular period of play during which a referee or other official stops the clock so that the players may rest, deliberate, make substitutions, etc.

  1. a short time alone used as a punishment or consequence for a child who is misbehaving.

  2. Computers.

    • the termination of a process or event that is taking longer than expected to proceed, and that is more likely to be successful if relaunched, resubmitted, etc.

    • the severing of an online connection after a period of inactivity, as when a user is logged out of a secure session on a webpage after a fixed period of time.

Origin of timeout

First recorded in 1870–75; time + out

Words Nearby timeout

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use timeout in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for time-out


  1. sport an interruption in play during which players rest, discuss tactics, or make substitutions

  2. a break taken during working hours

  1. computing a condition occurring when the amount of time a computer has been instructed to wait for another device to perform a task has expired, usually indicated by an error message

verbtime out
  1. (intr) (of a computer) to stop operating because of a time-out

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with timeout


A short break from work or play; also, a punishment for misbehavior in young children in which they are briefly separated from the group. For example, People rush around so much these days that I think everyone should take some time out now and then, or We don't throw food, Brian; you need some time out to think about it. This expression comes from a number of sports in which it signifies an interruption in play where the officials stop the clock, for purposes of rest, making a substitution, or consultation. Its figurative use dates from the mid-1900s.

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