How to Use Business Idioms for Time

Posted on March 29, 2016

Have you ever had a moment of confusion in the morning? Where the time on your phone doesn’t match the time on your watch or clock? Then you realise the clocks have gone forward or back by an hour! On the same theme, here are some popular and useful business idioms for time.

Top business idiom for time: To beat the clock
This means to have to complete something fast before the deadline. You could also say it’s a race against time. In our presentations courses the students have to create a presentation before the deadline, so they have to beat the clock.

To watch the clock
When you are bored and keen for time to pass you may keep looking at the clock. In the university summer holidays I had some temporary admin jobs which were very repetitive and boring. I certainly used to watch the clock a lot.

Time to kill
If you have time to kill you have some time before your next appointment and you would like to do something in that time. I had meetings with different clients 2 hours apart so in the middle I had time to kill.

To have time on one’s side
If you have time on your side this is a good thing. Perhaps you have to make a speech but you have a month to prepare. Then you have time on your side. It can also be said about people who are young to say they have their whole lives ahead of them.

There is a popular saying to remember which way the clocks turn in the spring and autumn. We say “Spring forwards, fall back”. You can imagine someone jumping (or springing) forwards in the spring and then falling backwards in the “fall”. Americans say “fall” for what in the UK is called “autumn”. You can visit this government page to see when UK clocks change.


So now you know some great business idioms for time: try to use them this week! In our face to face classes around London we are often asked for business English idioms. These can be a lot of fun to learn as well as great for making your English more precise and natural.

Looking at business English idioms as a way to improve your English? Get in contact to set up your first free English class at your London company.

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