Glossary Home Idioms

Call it a day

“Call it a day” is a simple idiom that is used when someone wants to inform others they’re done working for the day.

There are many different times and places in which “call it a day” might be used, including in one’s workplace and in the home. It’s unclear where exactly the phrase originated, but it is likely that it evolved naturally over time as a way of ending work until tomorrow. 

Call it a day definition and meaning


Meaning of “Call it a day” 

“Call it a day” is used when someone is trying to signal that they’re done with work for the day. That “work” could be anything from their job to exercise, a creative activity, cooking, or home repairs. There’s no limit to the ways, and the circumstances, in which the phrase might be used. 


When to Use “Call it a day”

It’s possible to use “call it a day” in a wide variety of situations. The phrase can be used among friends, family members, and colleagues. It’s colloquial, but not so much so that it couldn’t be used in a professional setting to signal the end of a workday. One can use the phrase when they’re telling their colleagues that they’re done with work for the day and are ready to go home by saying, “I’m going to call it a day.” The phrase is so common that anyone hearing it will very likely know exactly what that means.

It’s also easy to imagine how one might use the phrase to talk about what someone else did. For example, “Can you believe she called it a day at lunch?” In this judgmental sentence, the phrase is used to suggest that someone quit work much earlier than they should’ve. 


Example Sentences 

  • I think it’s time to call it a day. We’ve done more than enough. 
  • Okay, let’s call it a day here and start work again tomorrow. 
  • She called it a day after she finished her most important project. 
  • It’s important to call it a day before we get too burnt out. 
  • My father always called it a day after seeing everyone else go home. 
  • Do you think she’ll ever call it a day? She’s been working since 7:00 AM. 


Why Do Writers Use “Call it a day?” 

Writers use “call it a day” in the same way and for the same reasons that people use the phrase in everyday conversations.

It’s a great example of an idiom that’s easily incorporated in conversations. it’s very unlikely that a reader will come upon this phrase and not know exactly what the writer intended with it. But, even if they did, it’s very likely they’ll be able to figure out what it means because of how it’s used. The phrase easily fits into a wide variety of scenarios. For example, it’s possible a writer might use the phrase when a character wants to finish work for the day or something slightly less common like ending a day’s worth of exercising, concluding an argument for the day, or finishing work on a personal, creative project. 



According to Dictionary, the first iteration of “call it a day” was “call it half a day.” It was first recorded in 1838 when used to describe leaving one’s job before the day was over. 

The phrase as it is used today first appeared in writing in 1919. Although there is no clear record of exactly how the phrase evolved or where/when it was first spoken aloud, it’s easy to imagine how it came to be used regularly. It could’ve been used by almost anyone at any time, whenever someone was trying to signal that they were done with a particular task for the day. This means that there is no limit to how far back, for example, the 1600 or 1700s, in which it might’ve been used. 


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