time Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary

Meaning of “time” in the English Dictionary

"time" in British English

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uk   us   /taɪm/


A2 [U] the ​part of ​existence that is ​measured in ​minutes, ​days, ​years, etc., or this ​processconsidered as a ​whole: He ​wants to spend more time with his ​family. Time passes so ​quickly when you're having ​fun. She ​grew more and more ​fascinated by the ​subject as time went on/by. The ​curtains have ​faded over/with time (= as ​years have gone past). You'll ​forget her in time (= in the ​future). Over the ​course of time (= as ​years have gone past), ​holes have ​formed in the ​rock. When Paula was ​ill, I took her some ​magazines to ​help her pass the time. If you'd taken more time with/over (= ​spent more time doing) this ​essay, you could have done it much ​better. It takes along time (= many ​hours are ​needed) to get from London to Sydney. We'd save time on ​ourjourney (= it would be ​quicker) if we went by ​train. I only ​worked there for a ​short period of time. The ​kitchenclock is gaining/​losing time (= is going ​fast/​slow). My ​watch has never kept very good time (= been ​correct).all the time A2 continuously: I ​wish you'd ​stopcriticizing me all the time.in no time C1 (also in next to no time) very ​quickly or very ​soon: The ​kidsatetheirdinner in no time. We'll be ​home in next to no time.no time to lose If you say there is or that you have no time to ​lose, it ​means that you must do ​quickly whatever it is that you ​want to do: Come on, there's no time to ​lose, we have to get ​home before John ​finds out.for all time literary always: I will ​love you for all time.of all time that has ​everlived or ​existed: She's been called the ​greatestsinger of all time.
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time noun (SYSTEM)

C1 [U] the ​system of ​recordinghours used in different ​parts of the ​world: Greenwich Mean Time daylightsaving time

time noun (TIME AVAILABLE)

an ​amount of time that you have ​available to do something: I don't ​know how you find time to do all the things you do. I ​thought we'd give her a little more time (= ​allow her more time) to get the ​job done. I'd like to ​visit all the ​museums but time is ​short (= there is little time ​left).have time B1 If you have time, you have enough time to do something: We don't have much time before the ​trainleaves. Do you have time for a ​quickdrink after ​work? I'd like to ​learn to ​sail, but I don't have the time (= I am too ​busy). [+ to infinitive] I don't have time to go to the ​shops today.waste time A2 to not make good use of the ​hours, etc. that you have ​available: If you'd done ​yourworkinstead of ​wasting time on ​yourphone, you'd be ​finished by now.run out of time B1 to not have enough ​hours, etc. ​available to ​finish something you are ​trying to do: She ​ran out of time and didn't ​finish the last ​question.be (all) out of time to not have enough ​minutes, etc. ​available: I'd like to ​continue this ​discussion but we're all out of time.time's up informal there are no more ​minutes, ​hours, etc. ​available: OK, everyone, time's up for this ​week.time added on UK (also injury time, stoppage time) a ​period of time ​added to the end of a ​footballmatch because ​play was ​stopped during the ​game, usually to take ​care of ​players who were ​hurt: His ​goal in the third ​minute of time ​added on ​sealed the ​match.

time noun (PERIOD)

A2 [S or U] a ​particularperiod of time for which something has been ​happening, or that is ​needed for something: After a time, it ​becameclear that nobody was ​interested in coming to the ​meetings. They ​stayed with us for a ​short time. That was the ​bestrestaurant I've been to for/in a ​long time (= a ​longperiod has gone past since I went to such a good ​restaurant). It was some time ago that I last ​heard from her. We're going on ​holiday in two ​weeks' time (= after two ​weeks have ​passed). During her time (= while she was) in ​office, the ​primeministerintroduced a ​largenumber of ​changes. What do you like doing in ​your spare/​free time (= when you are not ​working)?have/take time off to ​stopwork, in ​order to do something ​else: I ​asked my ​boss if I could have some time off (fromwork) to go to the ​dentist.for a time for a ​shortperiod: For a time, we all ​thought that Sheila and Frank would get ​married.for some time B2 for a ​fairlylongperiod of time: I've been doing ​yoga for some time.for the time being C1 for a ​limitedperiod: Leave the ​ironing for the time being - I'll do it ​later.
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A1 [C or S or U] a ​particularpoint in the ​day, as ​expressed in ​hours and ​minutes or ​shown on a ​clock, or a ​particularpoint in time: What time is it?mainly UK "What's the time?" "It's ten o'clock." What time do you finishwork? Have you got the time? (= Do you ​know what time it is?) He's ​teaching his ​daughter to tell the time (= to ​recognize what time it is by ​looking at a ​clock). Did you ​find out the times of the ​trains to Kiev? The ​estimated time ofarrival/​departure of this ​flight is 11.15.mainly UK Oh ​dear, is that the (​right) time? (= is it really so late?) We always have ​dinner at the same time every ​day. I was ​exhausted by the time (= when) I got ​home. When would be a good time for me to ​call you? "What would be the ​best time of ​day for us to ​deliver the ​table?" "Oh, any time will be OK." Today's ​temperatures will be ​normal for the time ofyear (= will be as they are ​expected to be in this ​season). Just ​think, this time (= at the same ​particularpoint during) next ​week we'll be in Aruba. We ​regret that at the ​present time (US also at this time) we are ​unable to ​supply the ​products you ​ordered. The time is ​fast drawing near/​approaching (= it will ​soon be the time) when we'll have to make a ​decision.at the time A2 at the ​particularpoint when something was ​thought of or done: It ​seemed like a good ​idea at the time.at the same time B1 If two things ​happen at the same time, they ​happen together: We ​arrived at the same time.at your time of life at a person's ​presentage: At his time of ​life, he ought to be taking things ​easy.
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time noun (SUITABLE POINT)

B1 [S or U] a ​particularpoint of the ​day, ​year, etc. that is ​suitable for a ​particularactivity, or at which something is ​expected to ​happen: holiday time party time Put ​yourtoys away now - it's time forbed. It's time (that) I was ​leaving. [+ to infinitive] Is it time (for us) to go ​homeyet? This is not the time (= not a ​suitablemoment) to be ​thinking about ​buying a ​house. This is no time (= not a ​suitablemoment) to ​changeyourmind. I ​feel that the time has come (= now is a ​suitablemoment) for me to ​move on. The ​repairs to the ​road were ​finished two ​weeks ahead of time (= ​sooner than was ​expected). Why is it that the ​buses never ​run on time (= make ​theirjourneys in the ​expectednumber of ​hours, etc.)? She's ​grownold before her time (= ​sooner than she might have been ​expected to have done).in time B1 early enough: I got ​home just in time - it's ​starting to ​rain. If we don't ​hurry up, we won't be in time tocatch the ​train. We got there in plenty of time (= we ​arrived early) for the ​beginning of the ​game.(right/dead/bang) on time informal happening or done at the ​particularmoment that it was ​expected to ​happen or be done: My ​parents go to the ​houseright on time.ahead of time mainly US earlier than a ​particularmoment: Let's ​meet for ​lunch. I'll ​call you ​ahead of time to ​decideexactly when and where.about time C1 (also high time) informal If it is about time/high time that someone did something, it should have been done ​sooner or a ​long time ago: It's about time (that) the ​schoolimproveditsfoodservice. It is high time for the ​critics to ​opentheirminds to a new ​approach.about time (UK also about time too, not before time) informal said when someone does something or something ​happens that you ​think should have been done or have ​happened much ​sooner: "So Ben's ​finallyfound a ​job." "Yeah, it's about time."the time is right/ripe it is the most ​suitablemoment to do something or for something to ​happen: I haven't told him ​yet, but I will when the time is ​right. She ​felt the time was ​right toleave. The time is ​ripe forinvesting in new ​technology.
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time noun (OCCASION)

A2 [C] an ​occasion when something ​happens, or the ​experienceconnected with it: The last time we went to Paris, it ​rained every ​day. Every time/Each time I ​ask you to do something you say you're ​busy. They go ​swimming three or four times a ​week. There are times when I ​wish I didn't ​live where I do. The four-times ​champion (= the ​champion on four ​occasions in the past) was ​defeated in the second round. If I'd ​known at the time (= then) that she was his ​formerwife, I'd never have said what I did. Someti`mes I ​enjoy my ​Englishclasses, but at other times I ​find them really ​boring. For the umpteenth/​hundredth/​thousandth time, (= I've told you on many ​occasions to)stopteasingyoursister. Did you have a bad/good time (= an ​unpleasant/​enjoyableexperience) at the ​conference? She had an easy/hard time of it (= a ​comfortable/​uncomfortableexperience) with the ​birth of her second ​baby.from time to time B2 sometimes, but not often: From time to time I still ​think of her.time after time C2 again and again: Time after time she gets ​involved in ​relationships with the ​wrong men.time and (time) again very often: I've told you time and time again - ​look before you ​cross the ​road.at all times continuously: When you're at the ​airport, you should make ​sure you have ​yourluggage with you at all times.at (any) one time (also at a time, also at any given time) at or during any ​particularpoint or ​moment in the ​day: Only a ​certainnumber of ​people are ​allowed in the ​building at any one time. I'm ​sorry, but I'm too ​busy to ​help you now - I can only do one thing at a time.at times C1 sometimes: You can be really ​annoying at times, you ​know.at any time ever: Parking is not ​allowed here at any time.the times UK on many ​occasions: The times I've told you, ​ask before you ​borrow my ​clothes.
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B2 [C] (also times) a ​period in ​history: "A Tale of Two Cities" is set at the time of the ​French Revolution. In/Duringmedieval times, women ​thought to be ​witches were ​burned at the ​stake. In times gone by, all ​crops were ​harvested by ​hand. Times were hard (= ​livingconditions were not good) when I was a ​boy. He is ​widelyregarded as one of the ​bestwriters of modern/​our times (= the ​present or very ​recent past). I never ​thought it would ​happen in my time (= before I ​died). We ​sat and ​talked about old times (= things that had ​happened to us in the past.) Times have ​changed and many more women now have ​executivejobs than in the past.at one time C2 in the past: At one time, George Eliot ​lived here.ahead of your time (UK also before your time) having new ​ideas, ​opinions, or ​ways of ​livinglong before most other ​people dobefore sb's time If something is before ​your time, it ​happened or ​existed before you were ​born or were ​old enough to ​remember it: I don't ​remember the Beatles - they were before my time.
See also
time was said to ​mean that there was a ​period in the past when something used to ​happen or be ​true: Time was (when) you could ​buy a ​loaf of ​bread for ​sixpence.
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time noun (RACE)

[C or U] Your time in a ​race is the ​number of ​minutes, ​hours, etc. you take to ​complete it: Her time for the ​marathon was just under three ​hours. He ​ran the 100 ​metres in record time.

time noun (MUSIC)

[U] the ​number of ​beats in a bar of ​music, or the ​speed at which a ​piece of ​music is ​intended to be ​played: This ​piece is written in 4/4 time. Small ​children often have ​difficultysinging in time with the ​music (= at the same ​speed at which the ​music is being ​played). It ​seemed to me as if the ​violins were ​playing out of time (= at a different ​speed from the other ​instrumentsplaying the same ​piece of ​music). To beat time is to make a ​regularseries of ​sounds at the same ​speed as a ​piece of ​music is ​played. Tapping ​yourfoot will ​help you to keep time (= to ​play the ​music at the ​correctspeed).

time noun (PRISON)

do time informal to ​spend a ​period of time in ​prison: It's not always ​easy to ​find a ​job after you've done time.

time noun (DRINKING)

[U] the ​particularpoint in the ​day at which ​people who are ​drinking in a ​bar in the UK have to ​finishtheirdrinks and ​leave: "Time, ​please!" called the ​landlord. Is it time already?

timeverb [T]

uk   us   /taɪm/

time verb [T] (ARRANGE)

to ​decide that something will ​happen at a ​particular time: [+ to infinitive] We timed ​ourtrip tocoincide with my cousin's ​wedding. to ​arrange something so that it ​happens at the ​bestpossible time: If you time ​yourdeparturecarefully, you should be ​able to ​miss the ​worst of the ​traffic. The ​girls' ​basketballteamwon the ​game with a ​perfectly timed ​shot (= one ​played at ​exactly the ​rightmoment), just before the ​buzzer.
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time verb [T] (MEASURE)

B2 to ​measure how ​long it ​takes for something to ​happen or for someone to do something: Will you time me to ​see how ​long it ​takes me to ​swim a ​length?


uk   us   /-taɪm/
the ​statedperiod of ​time during the ​year, ​day, etc.: springtime Christmas-time daytime night-time
(Definition of time from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"time" in American English

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 us   /tɑɪm/


[U] the ​seconds, ​minutes, ​hours, ​days, ​weeks, ​months, ​years, etc., in which ​existence is ​measured, or the past, ​present, and ​futureconsidered as a ​whole: I really don’t have time to ​call her today. The ​childrenspent most of ​their time ​outdoors. We’d ​save time (= It would be ​quicker) if we didn’t have to ​pick up Bobby on the way. [U] If you ​waste time, you do not make good use of the ​amount of time ​available to you.


[C/U] a ​particularperiod of ​seconds, ​minutes, ​hours, ​days, ​weeks, ​months, ​years, etc., during which something has been ​happening or is ​needed or ​available: [U] The ​kids are ​well-behaved most of the time. [C] She was very ​lonely at that time. [C] They ​talked for a ​long time. [U] She ​spent most of her ​free time ​listening to ​music. [C] It’s ​unusual to get ​snow at this time of ​year. [U] Those ​kids are over here all the time (= often or ​continuously). [C/U] If you ​pass time, you do something while ​waiting for something ​else to ​happen: [U] While he was ​waiting, Joe ​passed the time ​looking through ​magazines. [C/U] Your time in a ​race is the ​number of ​seconds, ​minutes, and ​hours you take to ​complete it: [C] The ​track was ​soft, and the times were ​slow.


[C/U] a ​particularmoment in the ​day, as ​expressed in ​hours and ​minutes and ​shown on a ​clock, or a ​particularpoint in the ​day, ​week, ​month, or ​year: [U] What time is it? [U] What time do you ​finishwork? [U] He’s ​teaching his ​daughter to ​tell time (= to ​recognize what ​particularpoint in the ​day it is by ​looking at a ​clock). [C] I ​catch the ​train at the same time every ​day. [U] Parking is not ​allowed here at any time (= ​ever). [C/U] Time is also used to refer to the ​system of ​recordinghours used in different ​parts of the ​world: [U] Mountain Standard Time [U] daylightsaving time

time noun (SUITABLE POINT)

[C/U] a ​point of the ​day, ​week, ​month, or ​year that is ​suitable for a ​particularactivity, or at which something is ​expected to ​happen: [U] We had ​enjoyedourvisit, but now it was time to go ​home. [U] Put away ​yourtoys, Leni, it’s time for ​bed. [C] The times for ​meals are ​listed on the ​schedule. [U] This is no time (= not a ​suitablemoment) to ​changeyourmind.in time To be in time for something is to ​arrive at the ​rightmoment, before it is too late to do something: We ​arrived just in time for the show I'm ​glad you got here in time to ​see Julie before she goes. The ​plane is ​expected to ​arrive on time (= when ​scheduled).

time noun (OCCASION)

[C] an ​occasion or ​period, or the ​experienceconnected with it: This is a time to be ​serious. There were times when he ​almost gave up, but ​somehow he ​managed to ​survive. We ​visit my ​mother a few times a ​year. She ​takes the ​medicine three times a ​day. He was ​holding down three ​jobs at the same time. We had a good time at the ​party.


[C] (also times) a ​period in ​history: Indians since ​ancient times have ​groundtheircorn by ​hand.before your time Something or someone before ​your time ​happened or ​existed before you were ​born or were ​old enough to ​remember: The Beatles were way before my time.

timeverb [T]

 us   /tɑɪm/

time verb [T] (MEASURE ON A CLOCK)

to ​arrange for something to ​happen at a ​specificmoment: We timed ​ourarrivals at the ​airport so that we could ​meet and ​share a ​taxi to the ​city.


to ​measure the ​seconds, ​minutes, and ​hours for something to ​happen or someone to do something: We ​ran two ​miles and were timed at 12 ​minutes and 30 ​seconds. You’ve got to time the ​roast or it will get ​overdone.
(Definition of time from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"time" in Business English

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uk   us   /taɪm/
[U] what is ​measured in ​minutes, ​hours, etc.: spend/waste/save time Many ​consumersspend considerable time ​researching the best ​buys for a new or camera.have (the) time to do sth Not all ​investors have the time to ​invest directly in ​stocks and ​shares.an amount/period/length of time The ​amount of time small-business ​managersspend at ​work has ​increaseda lot of/plenty of/little time Executives often ​complain that a lot of time is ​wasted in ​meetings.give sb time to do sth The Australian IT ​group has been given more time to ​raisefunds for the ​merger.more/less time Suggested ​amendments to ​currentlegislation would give borrowers more time to ​pay back ​loans.it takes time to do sth Customers using the new ​systemreport an 80% ​reduction in the time it ​takes to ​placeorders. over time How do you ​think the ​market will ​perform over time?time and money/resources/energy Today's youngsters ​spend more time and ​money on ​personal grooming than any previous ​generation.
[S] a ​period of time of a particular ​type, for ​example, a ​period that is difficult, ​successful, etc.: a difficult/hard/tough time Auto ​makers are having a tough time in a ​marketplace that is getting more and more ​competitive.an easy/good time The ​mediagroup has not had an ​easy time of late, ​due to a difficult ​advertisingmarket and ​changingviewer habits.
[S] a ​period of time of a particular length: for a time The ​advantages of ​lowbusinesstax can give a significant ​boost to ​economies, at least for a time.a long/short/extended time TV will probably continue to ​dominate the ​advertisingmarket for a ​long time.
[U] time that is used in a particular way or for a ​specificpurpose: Most of my time at ​work is ​spent in ​directcontact with ​clients. work/​free/​leisure timemake/take time to do sth Don't forget to take time to ​fill out all the necessary ​forms.
[C] an occasion when sth ​happens: at a time when Eliminating ​estatetax would ​add to the nation's ​debt at a time when we can least ​afford it.at this/that time At that time, I had to ​travel a lot with my ​job.the first/next/last time Share ​pricesrose yesterday for the first time in over two ​years.every/each time New "​smartmeters" show how much water is ​consumed every time a ​power shower is ​run or a washing ​machine is used.
[S or U] the time shown on a ​clock or a watch: the time of sth The time of the ​meeting has been put back to 11.30 am. What time shall we ​start?
[U] the time in one country or ​part of the ​world that is different from the time in another country or ​part of the ​world: The ​phone went on ​sale at 6 p.m. local time.
against time if you do something against time, you have to ​work very hard to ​finish it by the ​agreed time or ​date: We are ​working against time to get the stadium ​finished for the ​opening ceremony.a race/battle/fight against time The race against time to ​stop deforestation has begun.
ahead of time if you do something ​ahead of time, you do it early or before something else ​happens: You must arrive at the ​airport two ​hoursahead of time in ​order to go through ​security.
all the time/the whole time for the whole of a ​period of time: New ​technologymeans that ​employees no ​longer need to be at their ​desks all the time. if something ​happens all the time or the whole time, it ​happens very often: Subscribers to our ​service get as many as 75 ​channels, with new ones coming all the time.
at a time if something ​happens for days, weeks, months, etc. at a time, it continues for the whole of that ​period: Computer ​viruses are capable of crippling large ​companies, often for days at a time. in ​groups or ​amounts of a particular ​number: Guest ​designers - as many as 100 at a time - have been ​invited to ​work with ​residentdesigners.
at all times formal always or at any time of the day: Calls to other ​mobilescost 40p a ​minute at all times. This ​exit must be ​keptclear at all times.
behind time happening or being done later than expected: Trains are ​running behind time ​due to an accident on the ​line.
in good time early, or ​allowing more than enough time for something to ​happen: Remember to ​send your ​taxform to us in good time.
in time for sth before something else ​starts or ​happens: Just in time for the ​fallbuyingseason, the ​company has announced a ​range of new ​handheldPCs.
it's time for sb to do sth used to say that something must be done immediately or very soon: It's time for ​Congress to ​pass a ​stimuluspackage to ​kick-start the ​economy.
keep up/move/change with the times to ​allowideas, ​methods, etc. to ​develop and remain modern: The BBC knows it has to ​move with the times in its ​negotiations over ​broadcastingrights.
a matter/question of time used to say that something will ​happen in the future, probably quite soon: It may be just a matter of time until a ​budgetairlineintroduces a crew-free ​plane. You'll ​find a ​job eventually - it's only a ​question of time.
nine times out of ten/99 times out of 100 used to say that something nearly always ​happens in a particular way or nearly always ​produces a particular ​result: Nine times out of ten, if you ​propose an ​idea, someone will argue with it.
ten/20/100, etc. times better/bigger/worse, etc. used when you compare two things to say how much better, bigger, worse, etc. something is than something else: The ​medianwealth of ​people with ​ISAs is 20 times greater than that of the ​generalpopulation.
on time at the ​agreed or expected time: We are ​committed to completing the ​project on time and on ​budget. I expect all my ​staff to get to ​work on time.
the time has come/the time is ripe for sth used to emphasize that something must be done or dealt with immediately: We ​feel the time has come for him to ​resign. With a ​fallinghousingmarket in ​Europe, the time is ripe for ​propertyauctions.
time is money used to say that if you ​waste time you are also ​losingmoney: For the ​oilindustry time is ​money, and in most ​cases it's ​cheaper to ​paycompensation and ​move to another ​site than wait for a ​boardhearing.
time is of the essence used to say that you should not wait or ​waste time before doing something important or urgent: Environmentalists argue that time is of the essence in ​redirectingtransportationmoney from roads to ​transit.

timeverb [T]

uk   us   /taɪm/
to ​plan the time at which an ​activity or ​eventstarts to ​happen: Timing a ​buy or ​sellrecommendation well is often partly a ​question of luck.be timed to do sth The ​bid had been timed to give the ​company a ​headstart over their ​rivals in the ​venture.perfectly/well/badly timed Their ​launch of an ​internationalpropertyfund looks to be perfectly timed.
(Definition of time from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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