Behind Schedule: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 13, 2023

"Behind schedule" signifies a situation where one is not keeping pace with predetermined timelines, resulting in delays or lateness in completing tasks or projects. It's a common phrase used to describe the failure to meet planned timeframes.

In short:

  • "Behind schedule" means falling behind or running late in terms of planned timeframes.

What Does "Behind Schedule" Mean?

When people say they are "behind schedule," they express a sense of delay or lateness in completing a task, project, or deadline. This idiom conveys the idea that one is not keeping up with the predetermined timeline.

Here are some key aspects of its meaning:

  • The idiom refers to a situation where planned activities are not progressing as intended, causing a delay.
  • It can be used in various contexts, from work-related projects to personal commitments.
  • "Behind schedule" implies a predetermined timetable, and the current progress does not align with it.

Where Does "Behind Schedule" Come From?

The origin of the idiom "behind schedule" is closely tied to the concept of schedules and timetables. Here's a glimpse into its historical development:

Historical Examples:

The earliest documented uses of the phrase "behind schedule" date back to the late 19th century when industrialization was in full swing. The emergence of railways, factories, and complex projects led to the need for precise planning and scheduling. As a result, phrases like "behind schedule" became increasingly common to describe delays in these ventures.

10 Examples of "Behind Schedule" in Sentences

Let's explore some examples of how this idiom is used in different contexts:

  • Due to unexpected weather delays, the construction project was behind schedule and couldn't move forward to the next process.
  • We thought marketing the business would be all rainbows and unicorns; however, our team is behind schedule on the marketing campaign because of a technical glitch.
  • Because she was under the weather, she was behind schedule in her studies and needed to catch up quickly.
  • I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the train arrived behind schedule due to track maintenance.
  • His frequent distractions at work caused him to fall behind schedule consistently.
  • The movie production went behind schedule because of script revisions. Rest assured, they will catch up to the marketing and distribution process.
  • The flight was behind schedule because of air traffic congestion, so I wish him safe travels.
  • They were behind schedule in delivering the ordered goods to the client because they got stuck in traffic.
  • The event started behind schedule as they waited for the guest of honor to arrive.
  • The restaurant apologized for being behind schedule in serving meals during the lunch rush.

Examples of "Behind Schedule" in Pop Culture

This idiom frequently appears in movies, TV shows, and literature. Here are some real examples:

  • In the film "Apollo 13," the astronauts find themselves behind schedule as they encounter technical difficulties during their mission to the moon.
  • In the TV series "Breaking Bad," Walter White often falls behind schedule in his drug production, leading to intense consequences.
  • In the novel "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby's extravagant parties occasionally ran behind schedule, adding to the intrigue of his character.
  • The documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" showcases Jiro Ono's dedication to his craft, even when he is behind schedule in preparing sushi.
  • In the business-themed reality show "Shark Tank," entrepreneurs must ensure their pitches are not behind schedule to impress the investors.
  • The video game "SimCity" challenges players to manage a city efficiently, avoiding scenarios where development projects run behind schedule.
  • In the novel "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson, the protagonist, Mikael Blomkvist, faces numerous obstacles that put his investigations behind schedule.
  • During the TV series "Game of Thrones," characters often found themselves behind schedule in their quests for power and revenge.
  • In the movie "The Social Network," Mark Zuckerberg and his team work tirelessly on Facebook's development, striving not to be behind schedule and beat competitors.
  • The stand-up comedy special "Seinfeld: I'm Telling You for the Last Time" humorously discusses the challenges of being behind schedule in everyday life.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Behind Schedule"

While "behind schedule" is a widely used idiom, there are several synonyms and alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning. Here are some different ways to express the notion of falling behind or running late:

  • Running late: This phrase straightforwardly describes being behind the intended timeline or schedule.
  • Delayed: When something is delayed, it means it's not progressing as planned and is taking more time than expected.
  • Off track: If a project or task is off track, it means it has deviated from the originally set schedule or course.
  • Running behind: Similar to "behind schedule," this phrase suggests a lag in time management or progress.
  • Losing time: This expression emphasizes the idea of time slipping away or being wasted, leading to delays.
  • Lagging: When something is lagging, it implies a slow or insufficient pace, causing delays in completion.
  • Not meeting deadlines: This phrase explicitly states the failure to adhere to predetermined timeframes or deadlines.
  • Struggling to keep up: This expression conveys the difficulty in maintaining the expected speed or progress.
  • Time management issues: This broader phrase encompasses various problems related to handling time efficiently and meeting schedules.
  • Behind time: A more formal way to express the same idea, often used in professional or official contexts.

These synonyms offer flexibility in communication, allowing individuals to choose the expression that best suits their specific context and tone of conversation.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Behind Schedule"

  • What is the origin of the idiom "behind schedule"?

The term originated in the late 19th century in the context of industrialization and the need for precise planning.

  • Can "behind schedule" have multiple meanings?

No, "behind schedule" generally means falling behind or running late in planned timeframes.

  • Are there synonyms for "behind schedule"?

Yes, synonyms include "running late," "delayed," and "off track."

  • Is "behind schedule" used only in professional settings?

No, it can be applied to both professional and personal situations.

  • How can I avoid falling behind schedule?

To avoid delays, plan tasks carefully, allocate sufficient time, and stay organized.

  • What are the consequences of consistently being behind schedule?

Consistently falling behind schedule can lead to missed opportunities, stress, and damaged reputations.

  • Is "behind schedule" a global idiom?

Yes, it is commonly used in many countries and cultures.

  • Can "behind schedule" be used in casual conversations?

Yes, it's versatile and suitable for both formal and informal contexts.

  • Are there any famous historical events related to being "behind schedule"?

The construction of famous structures like the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China faced delays, which could be associated with this idiom.

  • Can "behind schedule" apply to personal goals?

Yes, you can use it when discussing personal projects, goals, or commitments.

Final Thoughts About "Behind Schedule"

In conclusion, the idiom "behind schedule" reflects the common experience of encountering delays and setbacks in our daily lives. Whether it's a work project, a personal goal, or a grand endeavor, we've all been there—trying to catch up when time slips away. This phrase serves as a reminder to stay on track, manage time wisely, and adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

  • "Behind schedule" conveys the frustration and urgency that often accompanies time-related challenges.
  • It has historical roots in the industrial era when precise scheduling became crucial for complex projects.
  • This idiom's prevalence in pop culture underscores its significance in modern communication.
  • Understanding and using "behind schedule" effectively can enhance your ability to communicate about time-related issues.

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