Tempus fugit – or to quote the original version:

“Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus…”

“Time flies, flies irretrievably…”

Don’t worry, I’m not about to write another post about Latin, but most people will probably be familiar with the Latin expression ‘tempus fugit’, most commonly translated as ‘time flies’. Time does tick by inexorably and in our private and business lives we must talk about it, allot it, plan for it and find the right words to express it. Time is one of the hardest concepts to describe and I notice that people are often confused by the choice of expressions at their disposal. Here’s a quick recap:



Tempus fugit


The latest time or date by which something should be finished.
For ex: The submission deadline is December 31st.
If you’re wondering why there seems to be a reference to ‘death’ in there, there’s a brilliantly humorous post about the origins of the word on the Random House word blog here.

A period of time represented by a line on which important events are marked.
Timelines are very common at exhibitions, where they are used to mark the key points in someone’s life or trace the development of say our planetary system.

Time frame
A specified period of time in which something occurs or is planned to take place.
For ex: I gave the translator a time frame of seven working days to complete the work.
What’s the timeframe for your trip to South America?

Turnaround time
The time needed to complete a task.
This expression is used when some task needs to be ‘turned around’ in a certain time. Normally it involves receiving something, processing it and then sending it back to the original sender.
For ex: A fourteen-day turnaround is required to process your request.


antique clock face with hands


There is often confusion over the next three terms:

A plan for carrying out a process or procedure, giving lists of intended events and times.
When we work according to this plan we say we are ‘on schedule’.
For ex: We have submitted our intended works schedule to the client.

In the US it is also used to describe a list of times and departures, such as train or bus schedule.

In the UK, this would be the chart used to show the departure and arrivals time of buses, trains or aircraft.
For ex: I checked the train timetable on the web and there’s a train at midday tomorrow.

In the UK, it’s also used to refer to the chart showing the week’s classes in schools and college. In the US, they would refer to the weekly programme of classes as the schedule.

A chart or series of pages showing the days, weeks, and months of a particular year.
This term is both used to describe the physical chart we may have hanging above our desk, or more likely the iCal on our iMachines, as well as to define a schedule of events.
For ex: I have marked my upcoming holidays on my calendar.
Our CEO has a hectic calendar over the next few weeks.

While we’re on the subject of time, we should also briefly cover the following words that are sometimes used interchangeably:

A book in which one notes appointments.
For many people, a physical diary has been replaced by the calendar function on their ‘phones or computers.
For ex: I’ve written our date in my diary.

A list of items to be discussed at a formal meeting.
For ex: I have put the subject of the company’s future merger on the agenda.
It could also refer to a plan of things to be done or problems to be addressed.
For ex: Sorting out our HR problem is at the top of our agenda.

In the US, an agenda is also an appointment book, or a diary to the Brits.

Time’s up!

as we say when we have run out of the world’s most precious commodity.

Do you have any favourite expressions with time that you could share? Please send us your timely comments!

Photo credit: MomMaven via photopin cc

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