English Idioms About Time

Here are some common English idioms and phrases about time.


beat the clock = do something within the deadline: “We managed to beat the clock and get everything finished in time.”

work against the clock = work hard knowing you have a deadline: “Scientists are working against the clock to come up with a new vaccine.”

to clock on / off = sign in or out of a company to show the hours you’ve worked: “We need to clock in after we come back from lunch.”

watch the clock (a clock watcher) = make sure you only work the hours: “If you’re a clock watcher, then this job isn’t for you.”

Lack of time

pressed for time = not have much time: “I’m a bit pressed for time at the moment. Do you mind if we have the meeting tomorrow?”

run out of time = not have any time left: “We’ve run out of time on this project.”

a race against time = have to do something fast within a deadline: “There’s a race against time to save the rainforests.”

no time to lose = no time to waste: “There’s no time to lose. We’ve got to get going.”

Have enough time

have all the time in the world = have plenty of time: “You don’t need to hurry. We’ve got all the time in the world.”

have spare time = have free time: “What do you do in your spare time?”

have time on your hands / time to kill = too much time: “We’ve got a bit of time on our hands. What do you want to do?”

take your time = not be in any hurry: “Take your time answering the question.”

in your own time = do something without worrying about how much time it takes: “I’ll fix the car in my own time!”

make good time = do something faster than you thought: “We made good time. It only took us an hour to get here.”

time is on your side = be young and have plenty of time ahead of you: “You’ve got time on your side, so you shouldn’t feel pressured into making a career decision now.”

The right time for something

just in time: “They arrived just in time for the wedding.”

in the nick of time = without a second to spare: “We got here in the nick of time. Look at all that rain!”

high time = the right time: “It’s high time you got a job!” (Note: use the past simple after “high time”)

not before time: “He’s finally got a job. Not before time, I might add!”

it’s about time: “It’s about time you found your own place to live.” (Use the past simple after “it’s about time”)

not the time / hardly the time = an inappropriate time for something: “It’s not the time to ask me for a pay rise.!

Other expressions with time

lose track of time = forget about the time: “She was so engrossed in her book she lost all track of time.”

two-time = go out with more than one person at the same time: “She ought to be careful. She’s two-timing Jack with Bill and Jack is a very jealous person…”

call time on = bring an end to something: “The government are calling time on internet spammers.”

take time out = have a pause from something: “He needs to take some time out from his work.”

keep time = show the right time: “My watch doesn’t keep good time.”

do time = serve a prison sentence: “He’s doing time for armed robbery.”

on the company’s time = do something else when you’re at work: “We’re not allowed to use twitter on the company’s time.”

ahead of his / her time = be forward-thinking: “He’s definitely ahead of his time. He’s always got so many fascinating ideas.”

behind the times = old-fashioned: “He’s so behind the times. He still plays records! Can you believe it?”

keep up / move with the times = remain modern: “My mum is learning to use email to keep up with the times.”

have the time of your life = have a great time: “She’s having the time of her life at University. She loves it!”

before your time = before a person lived or worked in a place: “There used to be a post office here. That was before your time, of course.”

time and a half = when a worker is paid extra for working overtime: “We get time and a half if we work on Saturdays.”

overtime = money paid for working extra hours: “The firm are cutting back on overtime.”

time share = a holiday home bought by more than one person, where each “owner” has a certain period of the year they can use it: “Time share apartments are cheap at the moment.”

time warp = stuck in a past time: “This town seems to be stuck in a 1950s time warp. There are no fast food places and everything’s closed on Sundays.”

time zone = area where the clocks are the same: “The UK is in a different time zone from the rest of Europe.”

Check out my top 5 time idioms here!