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TIME Idioms: 40+ Useful Sayings and Idioms about Time


Time Idioms and Sayings! List of common phrases and idioms about time in English with meaning, ESL picture and example sentences. Learn these time idioms to improve your vocabulary as well as speaking skills in English.

Time Idioms and Expressions

List of Time Idioms in English

List of idiomatic expressions about time.

  • (Once In A) Blue Moon
  • (Seen in the) Cold Light of Day
  • (Your) Days Are Numbered
  • Beat the Clock
  • Time Flies
  • 15 Minutes Of Fame
  • A Week is A Long Time In
  • About Time
  • About To
  • Against the Clock
  • Ahead Of the Curve
  • All Along
  • All in Good Time
  • Around the Clock
  • At the End of the Day … (X Will Happen.)
  • Behind the Times
  • Better Late Than Never
  • Big Time
  • Buy Time
  • Call Time
  • Kill Time
  • Call It a Day / Night
  • Coming Down the Pike
  • Fifteen Minutes of Fame
  • Have the Time of Your Life
  • In a New York Minute (Southern U.S.)
  • In Broad Daylight
  • Carry the Day
  • Serve Time
  • Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
  • In the Blink of an Eye
  • In the Dark
  • In the Interim
  • In the Long Run
  • In the Nick of Time
  • Living on Borrowed Time
  • May-December (adj.)
  • Month of Sundays
  • Not Ready for Prime Time
  • On the Spot
  • On the Spur of the Moment
  • Once in a Blue Moon
  • Once in a While
  • Open Season
  • Quarter Past
  • Quarter To/Of
  • Seize the Day
  • Six Ways to (from) Sunday (UK)
  • Take Your Time
  • The Time is Ripe
  • Time is Money
  • Twenty-Four Seven
  • Year In, Year Out

Time Idioms and Sayings with Meaning and Examples

List of idioms about time with meaning and example sentences.

Time Idioms and Expressions (A)

15 Minutes Of Fame

  • Meaning: A very short time in the spotlight or brief flurry with fame, after which the person or subject involved is quickly forgotten
  • ExampleTeen pop stars tend to have their 15 minutes of fame, after which you’ll hardly remember them.

Note: Said to have been coined by American artist Andy Warhol.

A Week is A Long Time In

  • Meaning: In the field mentioned, the situation may change rapidly.
  • Example: A week is a long time in politics – A candidate ahead in the polls may drop out of the race a few days later.

About Time

  • Meaning: Far past the desired time.
  • ExampleI washed the dishes. It’s about time! They were piled up on the counter.

About To

  • Meaning: On the point of, occurring imminently
  • ExampleWe were about to go home, but Susan finally showed up at the mall.

Against the Clock

  • Meaning: In a very limited amount of time; with a shortage of time being the main problem
  • ExampleWe left later than we were supposed to, so it was a race against the clock to get tothe airport on time.

Ahead Of the Curve

  • Meaning: Innovative, devising new ideas in advance of others
  • ExampleTesla cars are expensive, but the company’s ideas are ahead of the curve, and other carmakers are beginning to adopt them.

All Along

  • Meaning: For the entire time something has been happening
  • ExampleJeff knew all along that the project would succeed. He can recognize a superior team.

All in Good Time

  • Meaning: Eventually; at a more favorable time in the future. This phrase encourages one to be patient.
  • ExampleI know you wish your house had sold already, but all in good time.

Around the Clock

  • Meaning: At all times
  • ExampleThe restaurant is open around the clock. If you go in at 3 a.m., you’ll meet police officers and ambulance drivers.

At the End of the Day … (X Will Happen.)

  • Meaning: In the final analysis, when all is said and done
  • ExampleYes, there will be problems if we enter the South American market, but at the end of the day there are large profits to be made there.

Time Idioms and Expressions (B)

List of expressions and idioms about time that start with B.

Behind the Times

  • Meaning: Old-fashioned
  • ExampleBlackberry phones used to be extremely popular, but now many people think they’re behind the times.

Better Late Than Never

  • Meaning: It implies that a belated achievement is better than not reaching a goal at all.
  • ExampleI’m sorry my gift came late, but better late than never, right?

Beat the Clock

  • Meaning: Perform a task quickly or within a fixed time limit
  • ExampleJohn beat the clock, arriving a few minutes before the doors were locked.

Big Time

  • Meaning: If you do something big time, you do it to a great degree.
  • ExampleChrissy’s into skiing big time.

Buy Time

  • Meaning: Cause a delay in something with the aim of improving one’s position
  • ExampleI know you don’t want to take out another loan, but it will buy time until the new factory comes online.

Time Idioms and Expressions (C)

List of expressions and idioms about time that start with C.

Call Time

  • Meaning: To end something
  • ExampleThe boxer is ready to call time on his long career.

Call It a Day / Night

  • Meaning: To stop working, either at one’s job or on a particular task, for the rest of the day
  • ExampleYou all look tired. Let’s call it a day.

Carry the Day

  • Meaning: Be victorious or successful
  • ExampleTeamwork and training will carry the day.

Coming Down the Pike

  • Meaning: Likely to occur in the near future
  • ExampleWe solved the sales crisis, but I see more problems coming down the pike.

Note: This is informal and rather old-fashioned.

(Seen in the) Cold Light of Day

  • Meaning: From a realistic rather than wishful perspective
  • ExampleSeen in the cold light of day, our plan is unlikely to work.

Time Idioms and Expressions (D, F, H)

List of expressions and idioms about time that start with D, F, H.

(Your) Days Are Numbered

  • Meaning: (You) will die soon.
  • ExampleYour days are numbered if you keep driving while drunk.

Note: This idiom is of biblical origin.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

  • Meaning: Temporary renown
  • ExampleThe boy band had its fifteen minutes of fame with its first album, but its second album bombed.

Note: The phrase was suggested by American artist Andy Warhol, who said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”

Have the Time of Your Life

  • Meaning: To have a very fun, exciting, or enjoyable time
  • Example: I traveled to France for the first time last summer, and I had the time of my life.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

  • Meaning: Said of something that is short-lived
  • ExampleMany of the new Internet companies are here today, gone tomorrow.

Time Idioms and Expressions (I)

List of expressions and idioms about time that start with I.

In a New York Minute (Southern U.S.)

  • Meaning: Very quickly
  • ExampleI’d buy that car in a New York minute if I had the money.

Note: This expression is regional American. New Yorkers don’t use it.

In Broad Daylight

  • Meaning: When something occurs in broad daylight, it means the event is clearly visible
  • ExampleThe gangland feud is getting so bad that people are being shot in broad daylight.

In the Blink of an Eye

  • Meaning: Quickly, seemingly instantaneously
  • ExampleI had a beautiful family, a nice home, and lots of money. And then, in the blink of an eye, it was all gone.

In the Dark

  • Meaning: Unaware of something
  • ExampleKevin says he was completely in the dark about the CEO’s plans to sell the company.

In the Interim

  • Meaning: It denotes a period of time between something that ended and something that happened afterwards
  • ExampleWe’re in the process of hiring a new social media director, but in the interim we’ll have to make do with our current staff.

In the Long Run

  • Meaning: Over an extended period of time
  • ExampleIt will cost us a lot to invest in new equipment, but in the long run we’ll save money.

Note: You can also say “in the short run.”

In the Nick of Time

  • Meaning: Just in time; with no time to spare
  • ExampleWe were going to leave without you, but you got here just in the nick of time.

Time Idioms and Expressions (I, K, L, M)

List of expressions and idioms about time that start with I, K, L, M.

Kill Time

  • Meaning: To do something which is not very useful or interesting to pass time
  • ExampleWe played cards to kill time until the bus came.

Living on Borrowed Time

  • Meaning: Living on although threatened by death
  • ExampleAccidents and disease can strike so unexpectedly that it feels like we’re all living on borrowed time.

May-December (adj.)

  • Meaning: Significantly different in age. Said of couples where one member is much older. The most common usage is May-December romance.
  • Example: Bert is enjoying the benefits of a May-December romance. He married a much younger woman. Criticize him if you like, but he’s livelier than he’s been in years.

Month of Sundays

  • Meaning: A long time, many months
  • ExampleI’m glad you dropped by! It’s been a month of Sundays since I saw you last.

Time Idioms and Expressions (N, O, Q)

List of expressions and idioms about time that start with N, O, Q.

Not Ready for Prime Time

  • Meaning: Not yet perfected; inexperienced
  • ExampleMachine translation has improved for some languages, but for Chinese to English it’s still not ready for prime time.

Note: Prime time” on North American television is the main viewing period of 8 to 11 p.m.

On the Spot

  • Meaning: Immediately, with no intervening time
  • Example: When I said I would move to New York, she offered me the job on the spot.

On the Spur of the Moment

  • Meaning: This popular saying denotes a spontaneous or sudden undertaking.
  • ExampleYou’ve got to stop making decisions about your business on the spur of the moment like this.

Once in a Blue Moon

  • Meaning: This idiom means something is rare or infrequent
  • ExamplePeter only comes out for a drink once in blue moon now that he has kids.

(Once In A) Blue Moon

  • Meaning: Very rarely.
  • ExampleOnce in a blue moon you see the Aurora here, but it’s not like farther north.

Once in a While

  • Meaning: Occasionally
  • ExampleI don’t want to live in the city, but I enjoy visiting once in a while.

Open Season

  • Meaning: A time when someone can be criticized or attacked without restriction.
  • ExampleIt’s been open season on Susan ever since she made mistakes in the new advertising campaign. But I think she’s basically done a good job.

Note: This idiom is often used with “on,” as in the example.

Quarter Past

  • Meaning: Fifteen minutes after the hour
  • ExampleI’ll meet you at the mall at a quarter past six, and we’ll go shopping.

Quarter To/Of

  • Meaning: Fifteen minutes before the hour
  • ExampleI’ll meet you at the mall at a quarter to six, and we’ll see the movie.

Note: A quarter of six, used to mean X:45, is counter intuitive, but it is sometimes used.

Time Idioms and Expressions (S, T, Y)

List of expressions and idioms about time that start with S, T, Y.

Seize the Day

  • Meaning: Take an opportunity
  • ExampleWe should seize the day while prices are low. That won’t last forever.

Note: This is a translation of the Latin “carpe diem.”

Serve Time

  • Meaning: To spend time in jail as part of a prison sentence
  • ExampleAfter serving his time, the assailant will be deported back to his home country.

Six Ways to (from) Sunday (UK)

  • Meaning: In every possible way
  • ExampleAfter questioning me six ways to Sunday, the police finally let me go.

Take Your Time

  • Meaning: Don’t hurry, work at a relaxed pace
  • ExampleTake your time on the exam. You don’t get a bonus for finishing quickly.

The Time is Ripe

  • Meaning: If you say that the time is ripe, you mean that it is a suitable point for a particular activity
  • ExampleI’m waiting till the time is ripe before I tell my parents that I failed my two exams.

Time is Money

  • Meaning: Time is valuable, so don’t waste it.
  • ExampleI can’t afford to spend a lot of time standing here talking. Time is money, you know!

Twenty-Four Seven

    • Meaning: At any time
    • ExampleIf you have problems, call me twenty-four seven; it doesn’t matter if I’m sleeping.

Note: A still stronger variant is 24/7/365.

Year In, Year Out

  • Meaning: Annually without change
  • ExampleOur holiday party is such a bore. Year in, year out the owner makes the same dumb jokes.

Time Idioms and Sayings | Image

Useful Idioms about Time in English

Idioms about Time

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