If someone spends “quality time” with another person, then they are spending precious time with them. The kind of time that can help strengthen the relationship.
Example: A boy and his parents are in the same household together. They are all in the living room, but their focus is split between different things. The father is sitting down watching TV, the mother is browsing the web on her computer, and the boy is playing games on his tablet.
Occasionally, they might share a few words with one another, but other than that, there’s not much interaction between them. So technically, the family is spending time together. But the question is, would you classify this time as being “quality?” Probably not. After all, this family is not really paying attention to each other; they’re all doing their own thing.
So then, when a person says: “How about we spend some quality time together?” They’re not talking about simply being in each other’s presence, like the family mentioned above. Rather, they want to do something together, where the focus is on each other.
The phrase ‘quality time’, the earliest I could find it in print is from the mid 20th century. For example, it was written in the Eureka Times Standard, printed in 1973, and there’s a part that reads:
“‘I’ve learned the difference between quantity time and quality time with my wife and kids,’ he says. ‘Merely sitting in the same room watching TV isn’t real quality time. At our home, we do things together.’ “
Whether a person should spend ‘quality’ or ‘quantity’ time with their loved ones looks like it was a somewhat common argument that was brought up in many newspapers during the 1960s. The point that was often made was that it wasn’t how much time you spend with others, but how you spend it.
- Jane decided to spend some quality time with her cat. She has not been able to give him as much as attention as she wants to because of work.
Tip: We have the phrase meanings for many expressions, so if you have one in mind, just use our alphabetical list to find it.