In the English language, there are plenty of time sayings that provide us with a colorful way to describe the passage of time or the pressing nature of a situation. We often hear these expressions in our daily conversations and they can be used in humorous or serious settings. For instance, you may have heard someone say that a sports team is running out the clock, or a coworker state that they are running out of time to finish a project. These are just a few occasions where sayings about time are used to express ourselves.
What Are Time Sayings?
Time sayings are a group of expressions that are used to describe time in a figurative or creative way. These sayings utilize phrases and words in a manner that conveys a thought relating to time. Generally speaking, they are not meant to be taken at face value, but instead should be understood figuratively. For example, if someone uses the phrase “time flies,” they do not mean that it’s literally flying, but rather that time feels like it’s passing by quickly.
Some sayings about time have a strong emphasis on moving quickly or rushing, while others have to do with patience and waiting. So whether you are pushing against the clock, or are eagerly awaiting a delivery, remember that there’s always a time saying you can use to get your point across.
20 Time Sayings That Are Common
The clock is ticking on these time related expressions, so pause for a moment and go over them before the seconds slip away. Actually, there’s no rush; here is a list of 20 time sayings that you can use in your speech:
1. A race against time
Trying to accomplish something quickly, and usually there is a sense of urgency present.
- Example: The lifeguard was in a race against time to save the floundering swimmer from drifting out to sea.
- Similar: Against the clock
2. Ahead of its time
Something that is advanced in its thought, design, or some other way and it’s not fully appreciated until later.
- Example: The revolutionary technology this company developed in the early 2000s was ahead of its time.
- Similar: Ahead of the curve, ahead of the game
3. Better late than never
It’s better to do something, even if it is delayed, than not doing it at all.
- Example: Sadly, I turned in my homework past its due date, but better late than never as the saying goes.
- Similar: It’s never too late
4. Call it a day
Putting a stop to any kind of work for the remainder of the day.
- Example: We’ve been practicing our recital for hours, let’s call it a day and resume tomorrow.
- Similar: Finish up, take a break, wind down, wrap it up
5. Crunch time
A temporary period of time where work is intensified because a deadline has to be met.
- Example: We are struggling to get our product released by the target date, so it’s crunch time all week.
- Similar: In home the stretch, pulling an all-nighter, the clock is ticking
6. Don’t waste your time
Advice given to someone to warn them not to spend their time on something that is likely to be unproductive.
- Example: Don’t waste your time watching so much TV, go for a walk and enjoy the weather.
- Similar: Don’t chase your own tail, don’t even bother
7. Even a broken clock is right twice a day
An unreliable person who is often incorrect on things can sometimes be right by chance.
- Example: I don’t trust his report, but a broken clock is right twice a day, so I’ll double-check his numbers to be sure.
- Similar: A blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, every dog has its day
8. Fifteen minutes of fame
Enjoying a temporary period of time in the public spotlight.
- Example: The viral video he made gave him his fifteen minutes of fame, but things returned to normal soon after.
- Similar: Flash in the pan, flavor of the month, here one minute gone the next
9. In the nick of time
Doing something at the last possible moment before it is too late.
- Example: The fire was extinguished in the nick of time before it got out of hand.
- Similar: By the skin of your teeth, just under the wire, with seconds to spare
10. Just a minute
A phrase indicating that someone needs a little bit more time to complete a task or to attend to the matter at hand.
- Example: Let me finish washing my clothes, it’ll be just a minute.
- Similar: Bear with me, give me a second, hang on a moment, hold your horses
11. Make every second count
A common saying about using your time in an effective and wise manner, not wasting it away on pointless pursuits.
- Example: In a race, competitors have to make every second count in order to win.
- Similar: Make hay while the sun shines, time is money
12. On borrowed time
Having a limited amount of time left, usually having to do with one’s lifespan or the existence of something that will soon pass away.
- Example: Despite knowing that he’s on borrowed time, the aging veteran player still enjoys playing with his team.
- Similar: Living on the edge, running out of steam, the end of the road
13. On the clock
Someone who is working and is being paid for their time.
- Example: I can’t stay and chat at this moment because I’m on the clock and have to get back to work.
- Similar: Nine to five, punching the clock
14. Time flies
This phrase means that time goes by quickly, especially when we are enjoying an activity or busy with work.
- Example: I would like to keep playing, but times flies and it’s getting late.
- Similar: Before you know it, in the blink of an eye
15. Time is money
Both time and money are valuable resources that should be spent wisely, not wasted away on needless ventures.
- Example: In this busy industry, time is money, so wasting seconds is money down the drain.
- Similar: Every minute counts, money doesn’t grow on trees
16. Time is of the essence
This expression describes circumstances where time is running out, and that action needs to be taken quickly to avoid any serious consequences.
- Example: Given the limited supply of hot water, time is of the essence while showering.
- Similar: Hurry along, hurry up, strike while the iron is hot
17. Time is on my side
Someone who is calling attention to the fact that they have plenty of time and it’s working in their favor.
- Example: I’m not rushing to make a decision since I know that time is on my side.
- Similar: Patience is a virtue, slow and steady wins the race
18. Time will tell
The outcome of an uncertain situation will be known later, so one should wait and see how things unfold.
- Example: It’s hard to know how my first stage performance will go, but time will tell.
- Similar: All in good time, let’s wait and see
19. Time’s up
The assigned time for an activity or task has reached an end, so there is no more left.
- Example: We waited an hour for them to arrive, but time’s up and we’re leaving now.
- Similar: Out of time, the clock ran out, the clock is ticking down
20. Working against the clock
Trying to complete a project or task before the allotted deadline, and there is little time remaining.
- Example: With rain steadily approaching, she was working against the clock to finish painting the house.
- Similar: Against the odds, under pressure, up against the clock
Expressions About Time And Patience
These expressions relate to time and they showcase that sometimes, we just need to wait calmly and be patient:
1. A watched pot never boils
Waiting specifically for something can make it feel like it’s taking forever to happen.
- Example: The pizza delivery is taking forever to show up, but then again a watched pot never boils.
- Similar: A rolling stone gathers no moss
2. Hold your horses
A request that expresses to someone that they need to to wait patiently.
- Example: I know that you are hungry, but hold your horses because dinner isn’t ready yet.
- Similar: Give me a minute, two seconds, wait a moment
3. Patience is a virtue
Waiting calmly is a good trait to have.
- Example: His grandmother told him that patience is a virtue, so even though the bus is behind schedule, he’s waiting calmly for it.
- Similar: Good things come to those who wait, the wait will be worth it
4. Patience is key
An expression that emphasizes the importance of being patient.
- Example: I understand you’re frustrated about not meeting your goals, but patience is key.
- Similar: Patience is a virtue, just be patient
5. Rome wasn’t built in a day
Sayings like this point out that sometimes, considerable time and effort are needed to accomplish something.
- Example: Learning how to play a musical instrument is challenging, but Rome wasn’t build in a day.
- Similar: Slow and steady wins the race, you can’t rush art
6. Slow and steady wins the race
Taking a consistent approach to something, even if it is slower, will have better results than just diving in and rushing things.
- Example: I’ve been working on gradually improving my cardio every week. It’s not much, but slow and steady wins the race.
- Similar: Haste makes waste, tortoise and the hare
7. The waiting game
A situation or outcome that a person has little to no control over, so all they can do is wait patiently for a result.
- Example: I’ve applied to numerous jobs, so now it’s just the waiting game to see if they call me back.
- Similar: it’s out of our hands, the ball is in their court, we’ll have to wait and see
8. Wait for the right moment
To wait for an opportune time to act instead of making an impulsive decision.
- Example: Instead of talking to her while she’s upset, wait for the right moment once she has calmed down.
- Similar: Seize the moment, timing is everything
9 . Waiting with bated breath
Anxiously anticipating something that is expected to happen soon,
- Example: I’m waiting with bated breath for her to return home so that I can propose.
- Similar: Eagerly anticipating, on pins and needles, on the edge of one’s seat
10. Wait your turn
A common phrase that conveys the thought of being patient and waiting for your opportunity to act, especially when standing in a line.
- Example: Someone tried to cut in front of me in line, so I calmly told them to wait their turn like everyone else.
- Similar: Bide your time, hold your horses, stand by