Definition: Time

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From Middle English tyme, time, from Old English tīma (time, period, space of time, season, lifetime, fixed time, favorable time, opportunity), from Proto-West Germanic *tīmō, from Proto-Germanic *tīmô (time), from Proto-Indo-European *deh₂imō, from Proto-Indo-European *deh₂y- (to divide). Cognate with Scots tym, tyme (time), Alemannic German Zimen, Zīmmän (time, time of the year, opportune time, opportunity), Danish time (hour, lesson), Swedish timme (hour), Norwegian time (time, hour), Faroese tími (hour, lesson, time), Icelandic tími (time, season). Related to tide. Not related to Latin tempus.


time (countable and uncountable, plural times)

  1. The inevitable progression into the future with the passing of present and past events.
    1. (physics) A dimension of spacetime with the opposite metric signature to space dimensions; the fourth dimension.
    2. (physics) Change associated with the second law of thermodynamics; the physical and psychological result of increasing entropy.
    3. (physics) The property of a system which allows it to have more than one distinct configuration.
  2. A duration of time.
    1. A quantity of availability of duration.
    2. A measurement of a quantity of time; a numerical or general indication of a length of progression.
    3. An experience.
    4. An era; (with the, sometimes in plural) the current era, the current state of affairs.
    5. A person's youth or young adulthood, as opposed to the present day.
    6. Time out; temporary, limited suspension of play.
  3. An instant of time.
    1. How much of a day has passed; the moment, as indicated by a clock or similar device.
    2. A particular moment or hour; the appropriate moment or hour for something (especially with prepositional phrase or imperfect subjunctive).
    3. A numerical indication of a particular moment.
    4. An instance or occurrence.
    5. The hour of childbirth.
    6. (as someone's time) The end of someone's life, conceived by the speaker as having been predestined.
  4. The measurement under some system of region of day or moment.
  5. Ratio of comparison.
  6. (music) The measured duration of sounds; measure; tempo; rate of movement; rhythmical division.

Usage notes

For the number of occurrences and the ratio of comparison, once and twice are typically used instead of one time and two times. Thrice is uncommon but not obsolescent, and is still common in Indian English. Typical collocations with time or time expressions. spend - To talk about the length of time of an activity. take - To talk about the length of time of an activity. waste - Used in a similar way to spend but with a negative connotation

Derived terms

  • aftertime
  • birth-time
  • compile-time
  • counter-time
  • downtime
  • high-time
  • holiday-time
  • launch-time
  • long-time
  • off-time
  • real-time
  • run-time
  • sometime
  • sometimes
  • space-time
  • time limit
  • timeout
  • timesheet
  • timeslot
  • timespan
  • timestamp
  • timetable


time (third-person singular simple present times, present participle timing, simple past and past participle timed)

  1. To measure or record the time, duration, or rate of.
  2. To choose when something begins or how long it lasts.
  3. To regulate as to time; to accompany, or agree with, in time of movement.
  4. To measure, as in music or harmony.

Derived terms

  • mistime
  • overtime
  • timed
  • time out
  • timer
  • timing



  1. (tennis) Reminder by the umpire for the players to continue playing after their pause.
  2. The umpire's call in prizefights, etc.
  3. A call by a bartender to warn patrons that the establishment is closing and no more drinks will be served.


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