pass the time of day

diogerepus

Senior Member
Korean
In this sentence does 'pass the time of day' mean sleeping with somebody? I checked everywhere and nothing stated the meaning above.

I saw Mr. Brown in town yesterday. I stopped and passed the time of day with him.
 
  • Bil

    Banned
    English USA
    No, it doesn't have anything to do with making love. For the most part, it simply means 'to casually spend time.' Of course, if you wanted to, you could 'pass the time of day' in the sack with someone.
     

    Nunty

    Modified
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I always thought that "pass the time of day" meant to engage in casual, light chat, not simply to spend time together. :confused:
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    To pass the time of day could mean as little as an exchange of "Good morning" greetings as Mr Brown and I passed in the street.
    The expressions "I wouldn't pass the time of day with him," "I wouldn't give him the time of day," depend for their effect on the brevity and casualness of this exchange.
     

    Bil

    Banned
    English USA
    In the USA, the expression isn't limited to light conversation. It's common to 'pass the time of day' pulling weeds in the garden, writing letters or simply daydreaming.
     

    Molot

    Senior Member
    Hi,

    The phrase simply refers to the passage of time during the day. It's not common to use that phrase in modern times, but it's understood by most as a poetic way of noting the movement of time, usually during waking hours. A little more context may be helpful. We do often use the shorter phrase, "pass the time," which is to say "use your time" or "do with your time." One may ask another, "How do you pass the time during the bleak winter months?" to which a reply might be "I pass the time reading, sewing and writing correspondence." The implication is that time can sometimes be slow in our perception and when faced with a long period of unscheduled time, we "pass" through it. How we "pass" through it depends on our mindset - do we look at the hours ahead with dread or with eagerness? Pass the time usually refers to activities that bring pleasure to quell boredom.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I've always believed that to 'pass the time of day' means to say 'hallo', in other words, to greet someone. 'To pass the time' is quite different and is used as Molot says, but does not make any reference to 'day'.
     

    Molot

    Senior Member
    That's interesting Porteño. I have never heard the expression used as a greeting. What country were you in that you heard it used that way? I've traveled a bit and haven't encountered it before.
     

    Molot

    Senior Member
    Well, you learn something new every day! I did see that the 'greeting' meaning was from the early 19th century, so no wonder it's not a common form of greeting today, at least in the US. Must be pretty specific to BE. LeoLeoMikesch, is your phrase from an 1800's British text by any chance?
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The term, "pass the time of day," is common to and is used by English speakers. Historically it may have had a different meaning but today it is used to describe how somebody manages their lifestyle. Eg., in reply to the question, "How do you pass the time of day," you could get an assortment of replies. Someone might say, "Oh, just working. Or, "I keep busy, you know. Sunup to sundown, I'm busy." Or, "I just read. That's all I do. Oh, of course I go to work."
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I've always believed that to 'pass the time of day' means to say 'hallo', in other words, to greet someone. 'To pass the time' is quite different and is used as Molot says, but does not make any reference to 'day'.
    I am not denying it also has the meanings others have suggested, but this is the meaning with which I'm most familiar. Where I come from, to pass the time of day means to stop a minute and chat.

    "On my walk, I stopped to pass the time of day with my neighbor." We had some polite and friendly conversation about the weather or her family or something like that.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I'm always glad to learn new phrases. What part of the US are you from, Cagey? I honestly have never heard 'pass the time of day' used in that manner.
    I've lived most of my life in northern California. I don't know whether people say this in LA where I am now. I'll have to start paying attention. It is equally interesting to me that not everybody knows this usage.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Where I come from, to pass the time of day means to stop a minute and chat.

    "On my walk, I stopped to pass the time of day with my neighbor." We had some polite and friendly conversation about the weather or her family or something like that.
    I agree. It would not raise an eyebrow if someone said that in my world.
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Cagey, your description of a pair of people engaging in a conversation is correct; that the chit-chat is passing the the the time of day. My examples refer to the usual way that I've heard it used.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Dimcl and Harry, how nice of you to let me know that I am not alone. I was beginning worry that people don't chat with their neighbors anymore.
     

    LeoLeoMikesch

    Member
    German, Germany
    Hey, thank you so much, really! All your talking this expression forth and back has perfectly explained the 'bandwidth' of what it may be used for, and have been used for.
    The text is actually 18th century British, and my first guess, how to say that in German was, at least, close (in the sense of 'he spent the day doing nothing important, merely talking to some people, waiting for the evening to come'), but I'll do some fine tuning on it now.
    Thanks again
    LeoLeoMikesch
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I agree with Cagey -- to "pass the time of day" means to engage in pleasant, idle, social conversation. I had always assumed that this was a common figure of speech for everyone; I am surprised to find out that there are other English speakers unfamiliar with it.
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Pass the time ("of day" is understood, but I never hear it) means to spend time doing something or to consume or use spare time by doing something. I read to pass the time while waiting in the dentist's office. I stopped to pass the time with Joe today.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I agree with Cagey -- to "pass the time of day" means to engage in pleasant, idle, social conversation. I had always assumed that this was a common figure of speech for everyone; I am surprised to find out that there are other English speakers unfamiliar with it.
    I'm with you GWB, and I'm equally bemused.
    Passing the time of day is usually a very brief interchange and at the level of social niceties only. It has nothing to do with passing time, or pastimes.
    Another source
     
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