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Time idioms

Average: 3.8 (55 votes)

Time is a precious. Most of us don't have enough of it and wish we had more. There are lots of English expressions using time. Here are 20 of them and what they mean. Check them out, there's no time to lose:

on time

to be on time means not to be late. You arrive at the right time.

'The trains always run on time in my country. They are never late.'

time flies

This common idiom means that time passes quickly.

'Time flies when you are having fun.'

in the nick of time

This expression means that you arrive or finish something just before it is too late. At the last possible moment.

'My team scored in the nick of time. The game was in the last few seconds.'

turn back the hands of time

To turn back the hands of time means to go back to the past.

'If I could turn back the hands of time, I wouldn't have done what I did.'

save time

We save time when we do something the quick way.

'We will save time if we drive instead of taking the bus.'

spare time

In natural English, spare time has the same meaning as free time. The things we do when we are not busy with work or study, for example.

'In my spare time I like to learn English.'

as time goes by

As time goes by means as time passes or moves. The passing of time.

'As time has gone by I have become less interested in going to nightclubs on the weekends.'

out of time

Out of time means that there is no more time left to do something. The time limit or deadline has been reached.

'Please stop writing. You are out of time. The exam has finished.'

make time

To make time means to find the time to do something. We have to clear some time in our schedules to do something.

'I know that you are busy, but you will have to make time to attend the meeting.'

time for a change

Time for a change means to stop what you are doing and start doing something else with your life.

'After working in the same job for 5 years, I now feel like it is time for a change.'

time is money

The famous expression time is money means that your time is a valuable commodity.

'I can't wait here all day. Time is money, you know?'

time heals all wounds

Time heals all wounds means that our feelings of hurt will leave us time passes by. This expression usually refers to emotional hurts and not physical ones.

'I was sad for a long time after I broke up with my boyfriend, but time heals all wounds. I'm fine now.'

only time will tell

Only time will tell means that we can not find out the truth or the answer yet. We will have to wait and then we will find out in the future.

'Will we ever have peace in the world? Only time will tell.'

kill time

To kill time means to do something that is not very interesting or important to pass time. We usually use to kill time when we are waiting for something that will take place later.

'We've got 4 hours until our flight leaves. What are we going to do until then? How are we going to kill time?'

time after time

When something happens or is done time after time it means that it happens again and again. The action repeats.

'Time after time Tom was late for school. His teacher told him if he was late again he would be in big trouble.'

time off

Time off means to take a holiday from work.

'You are working too much. You need to take some time off.'

a waste of time

A waste of time refers to anything that is not a useful way to spend your time. Doing something pointless or useless.

It's a waste of time calling that company. They never answer the telephones.'

a hard time

To have a hard time means to do something that is difficult or to suffer hardship.

'She's had a hard time recently; she lost her job and then her mother died.'
'I had a hard time trying to find this place. The directions you gave me were terrible!'

too much time on my hands

To have too much time on your hands means that you have too much free time and not enough things to do.

'He watches so much TV because he has too much time on his hands.' He needs to get a job.'

a whale of a time

To have a whale of a time means to have a great time. To do something really fun.

'I had a whale of a time at your party. Please invite me to your next one.

  • I spent 5 hours writing that report and then my boss told me that he didn't need it. What a ___!

  • I like to play the guitar? What do you do in your ___?

  • I got on the train a second before it left. I was just ___.

  • Look! I can't believe it. It's 5pm already. ___ when you are having fun!

  • I don't want to go on holiday to Spain again this year. I think it's ___ and to go somewhere different.

  • ___ he forgets my birthday. Every year is the same. He never remembers.

  • ___ if the price of oil will fall in the future.

  • You are sad now, but you will be ok in a couple of weeks. Remember, ___.

  • I'm never late for work. I always arrive ___.

  • That nightclub is fantastic! I had ___


Good lesson

Hi, Its interesting lesson for my, but time is money. Have money is well, but have more friends is supper, that I whale of time with theim. Wave

Use time properly

I am only want to say that we all of use time properly because


it is very useful for me.thanks very much

Thanks again

It was a great class, Chris, thanks as usual.

I had a whale of time doing these exercises!
Using you'll never waste your time!

I liked this lesson because

I liked this lesson because I learnt a lot of idioms I didn't know. But, I have a question: Do they use them in The United States or in Britain or in both of them?


Good question. These idioms are used in both British and American English.


Time Idioms

It's fantastic!!!

Try to make use of them

on time- The show will start on time, your punctuality will be appreciated.

time flies- Haven't you realised that time flies when you are grumbling?

in the nick of time- The game was exciting! Spain kicked a goal in the nick of time and beat Germany.

turn back the hands of time- Oh, I shouldn't hurt him; I wish I could turn back the hands of time.

save time- We took a short cut in order to save time but we finally got lost.

spare time- John is an ergasiomania, I don't think he will have any spare time to recreate himself.

as time goes by- His love of her has faded away as time goes by.

out of time- Hurry up! we are three miles behind the other teams and we are out of time.

make time- For the love of god, can you make time to take care of your own son?

time for a change- You have heard what the doctor advised. Smoking too much has destroyed your health; I think it is time for a change.

time is money- I can't understand why you like to chat on line with some strangers. Time is money!

Every witch has her own crystal ball.

The practice

a hard time + time heals all wounds- I had a hard time after the accident, but time heals all wounds, I finally got over the hardships.

only time will tell- He promised that he will not abandon his wife and children again, but only time will tell his faithfulness.

time after time- I have never forgotten to lock the back door, you need not to remind me time after time.

time off- I am really tired of this kind of toil and moil, I want to take some time off.

a waste of time- She is stubborn as a donkey donkey, your persuading her to accept the new product will be a waste of time.

too much time on my hand + kill time- Since I retired,I have had too much time on my hand. I watch so much TV every day so as to kill time.I am fed up with this boring life.

a whale of a time- The games was really exciting, all participants had had a whale of a time.

Every witch has her own crystal ball.

in time

what about "in time"? Confused

In Time

Yeah, we use that too. Similar to 'In the nick of time' mentioned above, but with less urgency. 'On time' is good too. There are more 'time' expressions. You anyone give us some more examples?

thanx 4 this exercise. I've

thanx 4 this exercise. I've never found like this one.


A lot of useful idioms, very interesting, as usual

Excellent idioms about

Excellent idioms about time!! Certainly time is a money, time heels all the wounds. we should not waste time. Hard time wiil go and we all will enjoy with a whale of time with our friends and relatives .

it's time to change

It's wonderful lesson, I think it's time to change to use this idioms in my English.

thanks a lot for this lesson.

yours Ahmed S. Grouda

Nataly Very useful lessons,


Very useful lessons, thank you

Nataly These idioms are


These idioms are familiar with Russian idioms

Is it a question "I like to

Is it a question "I like to play the guitar?" ?


yeah i got all answers right. interesting