What does the idiom "bide one's time" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase bide one's time, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression bide one's time used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "bide one's time"


The idiom "bide one's time" is used to describe the act of waiting patiently and enduring something that may be difficult. It implies that by enduring a difficult situation, eventually better days will come and the individual will be rewarded for their patience and perseverance.


The phrase "bide one's time" has mid 16th century origins. It is derived from "abide" which was originally used in English poetry to refer to the state of waiting until something happens. The phrase comes from Old English and means "to wait".


The phrase “bide one’s time” is often used in situations where patience and perseverance are important. It is often used when someone is having to endure a difficult situation and it can be used to encourage that person to be patient and keep going. For example, a person may say to someone else “You just need to bide your time and eventually you will get the reward for your hard work”. It can also be used to describe a situation where a person needs to be patient and wait for the right moment to make a move. For example, a person may say “We need to bide our time and wait for the perfect opportunity to make our move.”

Example Sentences

  • I know things are tough right now but you just need to bide your time and you will be rewarded for your patience.
  • We need to bide our time and wait for the right moment to act.
  • You just have to bide your time and eventually better days will come.

The meanings of the words in the "bide one's time" idiom

Idioms with similar meaning

"Don't judge a book by its cover" is an English idiom that means you shouldn't make assumptions about someone or something based solely on its appearance. In Japanese, the similar idiom is "Hana yori dango," which translates to "Dumplings rather than flowers." This idiom means that substance is more important than appearance.


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