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12 idioms about time, better later than never [infographic]

  • May 21, 2012
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Idioms about time are versatile and used frequently in everyday situations. Due to their abstract nature, many native speakers and ESL learners are left wondering what are idioms, and what exactly do they mean? Here are 12 time-related idioms and expressions along with explanations and examples.

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1.) Better Late Than Never
This idiom is simple but effective. It implies that a belated achievement is better than not reaching a goal at all. One might say, “The achievement is long overdue, but it’s better late than never.”

2.) On the Spur of the Moment
This popular saying denotes a spontaneous or sudden undertaking. For example, “Linda and Louis drove to the beach on the spur of the moment.”

3.) Once in a Blue Moon
A blue moon is a colloquial term applied to the second full moon in one month. This idiom means something is rare or infrequent. For example, “Homebodies Mary and James only go out once in a blue moon.”

4.) Living on Borrowed Time
Following an illness or near-death experience, many people believe they have cheated death. Here’s an example: “After Jim was struck by lightning, he felt like he was living on borrowed time.”

5.) In the Interim
This frequently used phrase is interchangeable with “in the meantime,” which is another time-related saying. It denotes a period of time between something that ended and something that happened afterwards. For example, “The boss will be back next week. In the interim, the workers will be stocking shelves and cleaning.”

6.) In Broad Daylight
When something occurs in broad daylight, it means the event is clearly visible. Here’s an example: “Two coyotes brazenly walked across the lawn in broad daylight.”

7.) Against the Clock
This common idiom means time is working against a project or plan instigated by a group or an individual. For example, “In movies, writers love to create countdowns where the main characters are working against the clock.”

8.) All in Good Time
Patience is an uncommon virtue. When individuals are inpatient, friends often assure them that things will happen eventually. Here’s an example: “Rachel thought she was going to become an old maid, but her mother assured her she would find the right person and get married all in good time.”

9.) Big Time
This versatile, informal idiom is used to denote something of extreme severity. For example, “Johnnie knew he was going to be in big-time trouble.” It can also mean to reach the top of one’s profession. For example, “When he landed the position as vice president, he knew he had reached the big time.”

10.) The Time is Ripe
When the time is ripe, it’s advantageous to undertake plans that have been waiting for awhile. Here’s an example: “Raphael was planning a trip overseas, and the time was finally ripe.”

11.) Have the Time of Your Life
The 1980s movie Dirty Dancing turned this idiom into a song that became one of the film’s most iconic tracks. The time of your life means you’re enjoying an unforgettable, exhilarating experience that cannot be recreated. For example, “Genevieve had the time of her life touring Italy.”

12.) Time is Money
If time is going to waste, money isn’t being made. This popular idiom attributed to Ben Franklin is frequently used in relation to business or employment. Here’s an example: “It’s wise to use every minute productively because time is money.”

These idioms about time are used frequently in writing and conversation. With these idioms and expressions, anyone can express abstract ideas in a colloquial manner. Do you have a favorite time-related idiom or an idiom you find confusing? Share your thoughts in the comments area.

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