Learn 40+ Common Idioms about TIME in English

Learn common Idioms about Time in English with meaning and examples.

List of Useful Idioms about Time

Video: Idioms about TIME in English

(Once In A) Blue Moon

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

(Seen in the) Cold Light of Day

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

(Your) Days Are Numbered

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

Note: This idiom is of biblical origin.

Beat the Clock

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

Time Flies

  • Meaning: Time seems to move very or more quickly
  • Example: I can’t believe my kid is about to graduate from high school. Time sure flies.

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
  • Example: Teen 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.
  • Example: I washed the dishes. It’s about time! They were piled up on the counter.

About To

  • Meaning: On the point of, occurring imminently
  • Example: We 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
  • Example: We 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
  • Example: Tesla 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
  • Example: Jeff 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.
  • Example: I know you wish your house had sold already, but all in good time.

Around the Clock

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

Useful Idioms about Time in English (Picture: Idioms about TIME)

Idioms about Time

… Idioms about Time …

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

  • Meaning: In the final analysis, when all is said and done
  • Example: Yes, 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.

Behind the Times

  • Meaning: Old-fashioned
  • Example: Blackberry 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.
  • Example: I’m sorry my gift came late, but better late than never, right?

Big Time

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

Buy Time

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

Call Time

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

Kill Time

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

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
  • Example: You all look tired. Let’s call it a day.

Coming Down the Pike

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

Note: This is informal and rather old-fashioned.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

  • Meaning: Temporary renown
  • Example: The 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.

In a New York Minute (Southern U.S.)

  • Meaning: Very quickly
  • Example: I’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
  • Example: The gangland feud is getting so bad that people are being shot in broad daylight.

Carry the Day

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

Serve Time

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

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

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

In the Blink of an Eye

  • Meaning: Quickly, seemingly instantaneously
  • Example: I 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
  • Example: Kevin 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
  • Example: We’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
  • Example: It 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
  • Example: We were going to leave without you, but you got here just in the nick of time.

Living on Borrowed Time

  • Meaning: Living on although threatened by death
  • Example: Accidents 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
  • Example: I’m glad you dropped by! It’s been a month of Sundays since I saw you last.

Not Ready for Prime Time

  • Meaning: Not yet perfected; inexperienced
  • Example: Machine 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

(Idioms about Time)

  • 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.
  • Example: You’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
  • Example: Peter only comes out for a drink once in blue moon now that he has kids.

Once in a While

  • Meaning: Occasionally
  • Example: I 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.
  • Example: It’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
  • Example: I’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
  • Example: I’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 counterintuitive, but it is sometimes used.

Seize the Day

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

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

Six Ways to (from) Sunday (UK)

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

Take Your Time

  • Meaning: Don’t hurry, work at a relaxed pace
  • Example: Take 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
  • Example: I’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.
  • Example: I can’t afford to spend a lot of time standing here talking. Time is money, you know!

Twenty-Four Seven

  • Meaning: At any time
  • Example: If 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
  • Example: Our holiday party is such a bore. Year in, year out the owner makes the same dumb jokes.

Common Idioms about TIME in English | Video

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Useful Idioms about Time in English.

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