Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is "Time". The posts will be more philosophical, contemplative, and even autobiographical than instructional. No time management tips planned, but you never know with A to Z.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Idioms of Time (#AtoZChallenge)


          If we removed all references to time from our language, we'd have a lot less to say.   Books would certainly be shorter--and I probably couldn't use a term like "shorter" when referring to books.




Idioms of Time

        Till the cows come home, in a coon's age, or as old as the hills are idioms that are as old as Methuselah (oh, that's another one).  Humans have used colorful expressions to express long periods of time probably since the earliest development of language--probably before any precise measurements of time were developed. We can say "just a sec" or more descriptively use idioms such as blink of an eye or quick as a wink.

      Time idioms were particularly put in the spotlight of my thoughts recently when Fox news commentary host Bill O'Reilly lamented Sean Spicer's frequent use of the idiom "at the end of the day" in his White House press briefings. I usually don't pay much attention to such details, but by golly, the next day I watched the briefing and he said it, not once, but a couple of times.  Now my radar was on.  Since the mention by O'Reilly I can't count the times I've heard Spicer and so many others using "at the end of the day" to lead into a point they were making.

       Another such phrase is "Kick the can down the road."   This was pointed out to me when I heard a couple of guys jokingly using the term in regard to something they were discussing.  This was an idiom that I'd never noticed before until that overheard conversation, but ever since hearing those guys use the phrase, I've heard this said often in the media.

         What these and so many other idioms have in common is that they refer to time in one way or another.  If you're like me you likely just overlook the fact that these idioms are used because they are such an integral part of language.  Add to that the words relating to time such as adverbs:  Words like often, suddenly, quickly, slowly, or interminably.  Like them or not, adverbs quite often relate to time.

          Our world of speech, written word, and thought so often reflects some aspect of time whether in its passing, its having passed, or what is yet to come.   The terminology of technology and the physical world is measured with respect to time.  When we talk about motion, we consider speed in relation to what?  To time--miles per hour, feet per second, or light years.

          Even our current Blogging from A to Z April Challenge evokes concepts of time.  An event in the month of April that consists of 26 days of blogging as well as hours put into the planning and composing of our own posts and the reading of innumerable other posts by other bloggers.  Time consumed, time spent.  Time passes and we find ways to talk about it.

          When you think about how much of what we say, hear, and read has to do with time in one way or another, it can become somewhat overwhelming.  If you think about it too long--like all day and all night long or even twenty four seven it can be mind boggling.  Focusing on such things can become an obsession that you begin to notice forever and a day or until the end of time.  Or at least until the cows come home.

         Have you ever become fixated on certain language idiosyncrasies?   What time idioms do you feel are grossly overused?   Do you have a favorite idiom of time?




51 comments:

  1. Hi Lee - I hate it when we absorb phrases or idioms of time into our own language - I can't now immediately think of something specific - but 'forever' it stands out ... people who are interviewed or spend a lot of time having to give report backs are prone to repetitive language.

    Cheers - I'm going on in my own sweet time towards Z!! - Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/i-is-for-ice-age-art.html

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    1. Hilary, when the phrases get repetitive to the point of cliche it can get annoying, but I usually don't notice it or dwell upon it. That is until someone points it out.

      Lee

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  2. I will take my time doing what I enjoy doing in my own sweet way.

    Great write up Lee.

    Yvonne.

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    1. I enjoy the phrase "sweet time". It makes me laugh.

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    2. Yvonne, I don't think many people in California say "Take your sweet time" as I don't recall having heard it much since moving here 25 years ago. I think here people are in too big of a hurry and often aren't thinking in terms of sweetness in regard to behavior. I used to hear it a lot more when I was younger.

      Lee

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  3. Lee,

    "Till the cows come home" or "in a coon's age" are phrases very much used by me quite often. Also, "I'll take my own sweet time" as mentioned by the other two ladies is another popular one I use. There's "When Hell freezes over" but I have usually bleep out Hell or my mama will wash my mouth out. :D Thanks for visiting, my friend and when the time is ripe, I hope some of your readers will join... Curious as the Cathy presents Art Sketching Through the Alphabet Letter "I" for Iris!

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    1. Cathy, those phrases are more like Southern idioms I think. Folks in Tennessee have some colorful expressions.

      Lee

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  4. In the UK, "at the end of the day" is irrevocably associated with football managers' pointless post-match soundbites (as in "at the end of the day, it's a game of two halves"). It's become so hackneyed as a result and I think many people over here can't hear it without thinking of that context. Those using it in high public office should get a stern talking to! "Time flies" is pretty apposite and pithy though - it does do that.

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    1. Nick, I've never noticed "at the end of the day" used in regard to sports, but I don't listen to sports talk much. Maybe politics is being seen as more of a sport these days hence the taking on of sports idioms.

      Lee

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  5. Idioms are fun to use as there are so many for so many things, but yeah time is sure near the top. If it weren't for time and the weather, people would be very quiet.

    But I have to stop as I don't have all the time in the world. It's a race against time you know. About time I said that. I was just in the right spot at the right time. Must be on borrowed time. Out of here in the nick of time. Run that by me one more time? No time to lose. Time I call it a day. I may withstand the test of time.

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    1. Pat, I also enjoy idioms as long as they are not used to an absolute extreme. You used them well in your comment.

      Lee

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  6. That phrase is used by a lot of people in sports.

    Older than dirt is one I hear a lot.

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    1. L.Diane, I don't hear "older than dirt" where I am, but I used to hear people in TN say it.

      Lee

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  7. Ok. Before reading your post, I'd never noticed these references to time. I mean, sure... I used them like anybody else, but never stopped to think about them. Now, I'm counting them in my comment. I got two already. Wait, 'now' would also count, right? And 'already'?
    Guess you got me addicted to this! :P
    Happy AtoZing!
    Chicky @ www.mysteriouskaddu.com

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    1. Chicky, I'm going to have to try to wash these thoughts out of my head. Or the probability is that I'll just forget about it all.

      Lee

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  8. It's probably very confusing to people who don't speak English as their first language, to understand what we're saying when we use idioms.

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    1. Sherry, American idioms are probably uniquely untranslatable into other languages and vice versa I'd think.

      Lee

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  9. I had the same reaction to both of those phrases. Get an editor!

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    1. Jacqui, using the idiomatic expressions are worse when used in writing I think, but mostly common in spoken word.

      Lee

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  10. The phrase I hate most in the world is "That said".

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    1. H.R., I think I've used that phrase or "that being said" or "that having been said". Sometimes it seems like a good transitional phrase.

      Lee

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    2. Might have been at one time. Sadly, a friend of mine uses it in every email/text and now it makes me cringe.

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  11. Good post. "You know," is highly annoying but it doesn't refer to time. Well, maybe it does because the speaker injects it repeatedly to make sure he's being understood, so he doesn't have to re-explain everything.

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    1. Eve, I think you've nailed the purpose of "you know"--if we had to explain everything we were trying to say in detail, people would be less likely to keep listening. Much of our conversations is based on the assumption that the party to whom we are speaking understands certain precepts without our having to explain them.

      Lee

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  12. Sometimes I will key in on something that someone says a lot and then I find myself not listening to what they are saying, just the phrase that keeps coming up again and again.

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    1. JoJo, I'll do the same thing. And I guess most of us get into certain habits of repeating certain things and don't even realize we are doing it unless someone points it out or we hear a recording of us speaking.

      Lee

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  13. My stepfather had an expression, "back when God was a boy." Also "back in ought-three."

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    1. John, never heard either, but they are interesting.

      Lee

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    1. Mike, I think they can be as long as they don't get overused to the point of being annoying.

      Lee

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  15. Your post makes me think of what it would be like if we didn't have time. A friend of mine lives in Africa and when he comes to my home in the midwest USA he is amazed at how fast time goes for us. I want to visit him one day and see how they live with time.

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    1. Nancy, I think there is so much to do in our lives and so much going on around us that time does appear to be moving faster than it might if we were say spending a relaxing day at a secluded beach or away on a camping trip without access to any media.

      Lee

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  16. Oh my goodness, you're gonna make me say it aren't you? Well, here it goes. When I use to ask my neighbor how are you.. he use to say doin' the best I can with the tools I got!! Drove me nuts. He has since moved away (Praise the Lord)! lol Have a nice day!

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    1. Marie, it's a funny expression and kind of cute, but I guess if you hear it constantly it would get old.

      Lee

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  17. Some days I feel slower than molasses. It's probably because I haven't had my full 40 winks at night.

    See you tomorrow if not, I'll catch you later,

    ~Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle
    #AtoZChallenge 1970's Billboard Hits

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    1. Mary, slower than molasses seems archaic now. I don't know if many people even use molasses like they once did. Also, it might be more of a regional expression. I have no idea where 40 winks came from, but it's an odd expression.

      Lee

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  18. Hi again Lee, I didn't know how to contact you via message, but someone posted this link on Facebook and I thought you'd be interested in it for your A-Z theme. It's called 'Why Each Year Seems to Disappear More Quickly Than the Last'. http://www.bodymindsoulspirit.com/why-each-year-seems-to-disappear-more-quickly-than-the-last/

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    1. JoJo, thanks for the link to an interesting article. I'd agree for the most part. Especially the "proportional theory" (which I've heard explained elsewhere) makes sense. With less time left in life we seem to be more pressed to get things done and yet never quite get everything we wanted to do done.

      Lee

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  19. Have their cake, and eat it too. Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes. Clear as mud. Honest as the day is long.

    Idioms are so much a part of language that I don't really hear them, just accept them.

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    1. Susan K, that's usually how I am. But if something is called to my attention then my ears perk when I hear it said.

      Lee

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  20. Time waits for no one! I do like idioms and where they originated from...I'm kind of hoping "in a coon's age" is about raccoons. I think of the terms my dad used to say..." he's as useless as a dog's hind leg" or "he's a useless as a boar's tits" or "he's not worth a powder to blow"

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    1. Birgit, I'm pretty sure "in a coon's age" has to do with raccoons looking old and wise. Or I read somewhere that people used to think raccoons lived a long time. Lot's of crazy sayings out there.

      Lee

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  21. Great post. It's got me thinking about the number of times I have used such idioms in my posts.

    How about "Once upon a time"? An idiom about the past, often laced with nostalgia.

    Cheers!
    Anjali

    https://akprowling.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/i-is-for-imagining-scenarios-for-songs/

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    1. Anjali, definitely "Once upon a time". "And they lived happily ever after..."

      Lee

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  22. Fun post I'm enjoying at this point in time ... (not that I like this idiom) - :)

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    1. Susan, I'm gonna say I've never met an idiom I didn't like. Some that I get tired of hearing, but useful for something.

      Lee

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  23. Though I've lived with my head in the clouds, Bob's your uncle when it comes to figuring out some idioms.

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  24. Even the fact that verbs have a past, present and future tense relates to time!

    Perspectives at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

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    1. Barbara, exactly! We could probably find time relations to everything we say.

      Lee

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  25. Incidentally, my original idea for I was idiomatic expressions. But I thought I'd share a review instead on I Not Stupid

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