What does the idiom "kill time" mean?

kill time is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression kill time is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "kill time"


This idiom is used to describe passing time, usually in a way that is not particularly productive. To “kill time” is to occupy oneself with activities that do not lead to any significant progress or outcome.


This idiom is believed to have originated sometime in the 15th century, when knights would prepare for battle by killing animals for sport. “Killing time” in this sense would then refer to passing the time until the actual battle occurred. It has since become a widely used phrase to describe occupying oneself with meaningless activities.


The phrase is widely used as a verb phrase, but it can also be used as a noun phrase. Most commonly, it is used to refer to time-filling activities that are not particularly meaningful or productive, but it can also refer to activities done to pass the time in a pleasant way. Additionally, “killing time” has come to refer to a form of procrastination; often the activities that one does to pass the time are less important than more meaningful tasks that one should be doing.

Example Sentences

  • I'm going to the movies to kill some time before my flight.
  • After the meeting got canceled, we had to kill time with some casual conversation.
  • I was just killing time when I stumbled across the best-selling book I had been looking for.
  • I spent the afternoon killing time instead of studying for my upcoming exam.

The meanings of the words in the "kill time" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


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