A Quarter of One: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
November 2, 2023

The expression "a quarter of one" is a colloquial way of indicating the time 12:45, which is fifteen minutes before one o'clock. It's a part of everyday language used to convey time in a more informal and conversational manner, and it can refer to both 12:45 in the afternoon and 12:45 at night.

In short:

"A quarter of one" refers to the time, specifically 12:45.

What Does "A Quarter of One" Mean?

When someone says "a quarter of one," they are referring to a specific time of the day. It specifically denotes the time 12:45, indicating fifteen minutes before one o'clock.

Let's dive into its core meanings and usage:

  • It indicates the time 15 minutes before 1 o'clock, which is 12:45.
  • The phrase can be used both in the context of 12:45 in the afternoon and 12:45 at night.
  • It's a way of expressing time without saying the exact minutes.

Where Does "A Quarter of One" Come From?

In this context, the term “quarter” refers to a fourth part or a quarter of an hour, which is 15 minutes. The term “to” is used to indicate that the time is approaching the next hour. This way of telling time dates back to at least the early 19th century. The phrase may have originated from the phrase: “It wants/lacks a quarter of 10.” This way of telling time goes way back and was used in both England and the U.S. Today, it’s a common way of expressing time in many English-speaking countries.

10 Examples of "A Quarter of One" in Sentences

Here are some sentences to demonstrate the use of this idiom in various contexts:

  • I'll meet you at the new café at a quarter of one.
  • I was supposed to meet you at a quarter of one, but it completely slipped my mind.
  • The movie starts at a quarter of one, so we better hurry.
  • Our meeting is scheduled for a quarter of one, so I’ll see you then.
  • As per my last email, our meeting is scheduled for a quarter of one tomorrow.
  • He finished his work by a quarter of one.
  • Even though the event starts at a quarter of one, I expect she'll be fashionably late as always.
  • The shop closes at a quarter of one on Sundays.
  • I received the call at a quarter of one.
  • The event is scheduled to start at a quarter of one.

Examples of "A Quarter of One" in Pop Culture

The made has made its appearances in pop culture. Here are some examples:

  • In the book Some Historical Notices of the O'Meaghers of Ikerrin, the phrase "a quarter of one carrucate of land" was mentioned.
  • A quote from a 2010 book Context-Dependence, Perspective and Relativity: "Perry considers a case in which a young child who is unaware of timezones looks at her watch and thereby comes to believe that it is quarter to one.
  • A quote from the book Claim Number One by George W. Ogden: "Time for all honest men but me and you to be in bed, I reckon. It's a quarter to one."
  • A Reddit post in r/musictheory discusses musical notation and questions what "a quarter of one and a third of a measure" means.
  • Mental Floss reveals that Mark Hamill received "a quarter of one percent of the film's profits" for his role as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.
  • The New York Times discusses Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show and notes that the audience never sees "even a quarter of one" complete performance.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "A Quarter of One"

There are several ways to express the same time:

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "A Quarter of One":

  • What does "a quarter of one" mean?

It refers to the time 12:45, which is 15 minutes before 1 o'clock.

  • Is "a quarter of one" used to denote AM or PM?

It can be used for both, depending on the context.

  • Where did the idiom originate?

It's tied to the way we divide and perceive time, specifically the division of an hour into quarters.

  • Can "a quarter of one" be used in formal writing?

While it's understood, it's more common in spoken language. In formal writing, it's clearer to use the exact time, like 12:45.

  • Are there other idioms related to time?

Yes, such as "a quarter past one" or "half-past one."

  • Why is it called "a quarter" of one?

Because an hour is divided into four quarters, and "a quarter of one" denotes three-quarters of the way through the hour of 12.

  • Is this idiom used worldwide?

While the concept is understood, different cultures might have their own ways of expressing time.

  • How can I use this idiom in a sentence?

You can say, "I'll meet you at the park at a quarter of one."

  • Is "a quarter of one" the same as "a quarter to one"?

Yes, both idioms mean 12:45.

  • What's the opposite of "a quarter of one"?

"A quarter past one," which means 1:15.

Final Thoughts About "A Quarter of One"

The phrase "a quarter of one" is a way of telling time, specifically referring to 12:45 or 15 minutes before 1 o'clock. It's a part of everyday language that helps us communicate the precise time of day.

Here’s a quick wrap-up:

  • It's a colloquial way of expressing time.
  • Understanding such idioms can help in better communication.
  • It's a reflection of how we perceive and divide time.

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