on one's own time


Senior Member
"Well, like you said, she cleared seven days of her docket and let each and every single one of these women and girls come forward on their own time and confront Larry Nassar."

What does "on their own time" mean here?

I found two things strange with this phrase:

a) the women could to the court because they had time, which is theirs obviously.

b) why 'on'? not 'at' as with "at the right time"

so I figured this may be a set phrase, an exception.

I turn to the dictionary, which says: during time for which one is not paid or during other than working hours.

But those two don't work here because telling the witnesses to come to court on their own time, which is nothing wrong but unnecessary, will damp down the judge's good will to go to great length to make sure the case be heard properly.

source: Larry Nassar Sentenced To Up To 175 Years After 150 Women Share Stories Of Abuse
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Normally, I would have said that "on their own time" is a set expression that means they had to take off work, for example, possibly without pay, to appear in court – so it was on their own time (without pay, and possibly using up their leave allowance), and not the company's time (for which they would be paid).

    However, in this case, I think it means they could decide when, and in which order, they would appear in court to confront Nassar. The judge wasn't going to require each woman to come on a particular day and at a particular hour.
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