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Time is money

“Time is money” suggests that wasted time is wasted money. If one is wasting time, they’re missing out on an opportunity to make money.

“Time is money” is a common and often-used idiom that refers to the value of one’s time. This might be the person using it or the person to whom it’s directed. The phrase is usually associated with money but doesn’t have to be used that way. Like most idioms, this one can take some time to get used to, especially for new English speakers. 

Time is money idiom


Meaning of “Time is money” 

“Time is money” suggests that wasted time is wasted money. If one is wasting time, they’re missing out on an opportunity to make money. While the phrase may have started in regard to actual monetary gain, today, it’s also used in other ways. One might use it in order to indicate that they’d rather stop wasting time and get to whatever it is they’d rather be doing. It might apply to learning, training for an athletic pursuit, working a job, and many more situations. 


When To Use “Time is money” 

“Time is money” can be used in a variety of situations. Most commonly, it is still used to refer to actual monetary situations. For example, if someone is spending more time talking than working at their job, their boss might come up to them and use the phrase to remind them to get back to work. Alternatively, one might use it to remind themselves that wasted time is time that could be better spent accomplishing something. This might be making money, or it could be bettering themselves in some other way. It’s also quite possible to use the phrase insultingly or as a compliment depending on the inflection one uses. 


Example Sentences with “Time is money” 

  • Anna! What are you doing?? Time is money, remember! 
  • All he ever taught me was, “time is money.” There has to be more to life than that.
  • Whenever I get tired, I always remember that time is money, then I feel re-energized.
  • If everyone remembered that time is money, the world would work a lot harder.
  • How long until my time turns into money?? 


Why Do Writers Use “Time is money?” 

Writers use “time is money” for the same reasons that one might use the phrase in everyday conversation. It can be used as a colloquialism, one that falls easily into a conversation between two characters. If someone says it is a novel or short story, it’s like that the reader will understand it and intuit the correct meaning. But, there is always a chance that the phrase doesn’t come across exactly as the writer intended. That’s a risk that one always runs when using idioms, proverbs, or aphorisms in writing. Idioms can also be tricky for another reason, that is that they can sometimes feel or sound awkward in a sentence. If a writer decides to use one, and it doesn’t feel fluid and realistic, then it’s likely that the reader won’t feel that the dialogue is believable. 


Origins of “Time is money” 

“Time is money” is one of those idioms that doesn’t have a clear origin. There are moments in which it gained popularity and period in which it was used more or less frequently, though. Despite its mysterious beginnings, the phrase is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. In his Advice to a Young Tradesman, a short four-page pamphlet, Franklin uses the phrase “Remember that time is money.” The essay was published in The American Instructor: or Young Man’s Best Companion in 1748 by George Fisher. The line was followed up by a few more lines, some of which read: 

Remember that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labour, and goes abroad, or sits idle one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, it ought not to be reckoned the only expence; he hath really spent or thrown away five shillings besides.

Scholars have suggested that the phrase actually dates back to at least the 5th century with Antiphon, an Athenian orator. Another interesting iteration of the phrase appears in Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. He wrote, “Time is money […] and very good money too to those who reckon interest by It.” 


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