Time, Gentlemen, Please!

By Maeve Maddox

Our lives are defined by time.

I challenge you to keep track of the number of times you say the word “time” in the course of a single day:

What time is it?
How much time do I have?
It’s about time!

We spend time, waste time, lose time, and save time.

When we’re ready to go home from work, we say it’s time to call it a day.
When we’re ready to go to bed, we say it’s time to call it a night.

When we’re having fun, time flies. When we’re sad or bored, time drags by.

The following examples of “time” expressions are for our ESL readers.

He thinks his heart is broken, but time heals all wounds. (He’ll get over it when enough time has passed.)

She seems to be a good choice; time will tell if she can do the work. (When she has been in the job long enough, her ability or lack of it will be apparent.)

He graduated a year ago; it’s past time he looked for a job. (He should have looked for work before now.)

The firemen got to the house just in time to save the residents. (A few minutes later and they residents would have died.)

A year ago, the doctor gave him three months to live; he’s living on borrowed time. (He’s living longer than was expected.)

He was unable to travel for nine years; now he’s making up for lost time by visiting every continent. (He’s going to extremes in an effort to experience what he could not at an earlier time.)

Getting the transplant organ from California to the hospital in Kenya will be a race against time. (The organ will be useless if it does not reach its destination within a limited period.)

Charlie is never in a hurry. He will answer the telephone in his own sweet time. (He will answer when he is ready.)

Shakespeare’s works have stood the test of time. (to stand the test of time is to prove valuable or popular or useful for a very long time.)

He won’t give you a definite answer because he’s playing for time. (He is deliberately practicing delay.)

Now that you’re retired, I suppose you have time on your hands. (You don’t have anything that you must do.)

If you’re not some kind of celebrity, she won’t give you the time of day. (She won’t pay any attention to you.)

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6 Responses to “Time, Gentlemen, Please!”

  • Brad K.

    “. . . timing my stride to the evening train.” That is, adjusting two or more cyclical events to coincide, time after time (repeatedly).

    Written “sheet” music often describes the intended pacing of play with a time signature. Double time is a euphemism for twice as fast, but usually means a running pace as opposed to a walking pace.

    “I am going to hold my breath. Time me!” – measure the elapsed time from the start until I can no longer hold my breath. Then be able to tell me how long I managed to hold my breath!

    This time . . . is often an identifier of the most recent of a series of events. “Brad, you have been careless with the mower, and broken several windows this summer. This time, I am going to punish you, as well as make you pay for the broken window.”

    Some time might be an event that might occur after some unknown amount of time elapses – sometime in the future.

    One of the aromatic herbs listed in the chorus of the song, Scarborough Fair. “Parsley, sage, rosemary and time.” No, no, that is “Thyme”, pronounced the same way as time, but tastes quite different.

    Cooking involves measuring elapsed time. The amount of heat and the amount of time that heat is applied are used to estimate the amount of energy applied to a preparation; often the more time, the less heat is required for an equivalent amount of heat “treatment” of food, within limits. Varying amount of time also affects the pattern of heat penetration of the dish, and moisture management of the dish. Heat of varying degree an duration affects components of food, affecting different flavors differently.

  • Peter

    What time is it, Eccles?

  • Shirley Stuart

    An impressive array of times! Another well-worn (used a lot) idiom is “time after time,” which doesn’t mean sometime later, but “again and again,” “over and over,” “repeatedly”!

    In everything from love songs,

    “Time after time
    I tell myself that I’m
    So lucky to be loving you . . . .”

    to smug self-congratulation,

    “Time after time, I told him not to bet all his money on that horse!” (the horse lost the race).

    the idiom is used time after time. (Sometimes it comes out “time and again,” but that means the same thing.)

  • Vic

    It’s about time you ran this article.

  • cmdweb

    Has no one mentioned “doing time”?

  • Stephen Thorn

    Don’t forget “time is on my side”, “no time to lose” (or, for you Python fans, “no time Tolouse”), “we have all the time in the world”, or “time stands still.” Also, things can be done in a timely manner, one indulges in a pasttime (a hobby), and we quote “A stitch in time saves nine.”

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