It Is High Time: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 4, 2023

The idiom "it is high time" is an expression we often hear in conversations, books, and movies.  The phrase indicates that we should have acted earlier, suggesting the present moment might be too late. So, when someone declares, "it is high time," they emphasize the need for immediate action.

In short:

"It is high time" means action should have been taken earlier and now is the latest it should be done.

What Does "It Is High Time" Mean?

The phrase "it is high time" implies a sense of urgency. Here's a closer examination:

  • It suggests that something is overdue or delayed.
  • The phrase often carries an element of criticism or impatience towards the delay.
  • While commonly used in reference to activities or tasks, it can also be applied to emotions or states of mind. For instance, saying "it is high time" you moved on from a past relationship means you should have done it earlier.
  • Furthermore, variations of this idiom include phrases like "it's about time" or "the time has come," which carry similar sentiments.

Where Does “It Is High Time” Come From?

Old English origins of "it is high time" associate "high" with a significant span of time. In the context of its historical usage and the etymology of the word "high" in Old English, when someone says "it is high time," they are emphasizing that an action is not just timely but perhaps even overdue.

Historical Usage

"For it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."

- Romans 13:11, King James Bible.

This usage showcases the idiom's relation to something significant or crucial.

10 Examples of "It Is High Time" in Sentences

Below are ten diverse examples to demonstrate the varied usage of "it is high time":

  • I've barely made it here, and I think it is high time we started the meeting.
  • With the rising pollution, it is high time the government implemented stricter laws.
  • You've been procrastinating for weeks; it is high time you got on top of your assignments.
  • It is high time you abide by the rules and stop sneaking out at night.
  • This brings us to the point: don't you think it is high time we took a vacation?
  • After all these delays, it is high time they landed a decision.
  • Considering how outdated our systems are, it is high time we upgraded them.
  • They've been dating for ten years; of course not! It's not surprising many believe it is high time they got married.
  • Given the unpredictable weather, it's high time we bought a new umbrella.
  • Given your expertise and experience, it is high time you asked for a promotion.

Examples of “It Is High Time” in Pop Culture

Our beloved idiom has made notable appearances in popular culture.

Here are a few of them:

  • "High Time" - A song by the Grateful Dead from their 1970 album, "Workingman's Dead."
  • Classic films from the 1950s and 1960s often used "it is high time" to express impatience or the need for immediate action.
  • "High Time We Went" - A song by Joe Cocker released in 1972.
  • "High Time for Heroes" - A book in the popular children's series "Magic Tree House.
  • Various TV series highlight the phrase to emphasize the urgency for change or action.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say “It Is High Time”

For variation in conversation or writing, consider these alternatives to the phrase:

  • It's about time.
  • The time has come.
  • No time like the present.
  • Time's a-wasting.
  • Better late than never.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About “It Is High Time”:

  • What does the phrase mean?

The phrase conveys a sense of urgency, indicating that someone should have already started doing something or that an action is long overdue.

  • Where did this term originate?

The term traces its roots back to Old English, where time references were often used to indicate the necessity of an action.

  • How commonly do people use this phrase in daily conversations?

Many people regularly use the phrase, especially when emphasizing the urgency or importance of an action or event.

  • How do other cultures or languages interpret the term?

While the exact phrase might not be present, many languages have their idioms that convey a similar sentiment of urgency or being overdue.

  • Can I use the term in formal writing or speeches?

Of course! The term is versatile and fits both casual conversations and more formal contexts, provided it's used appropriately.

  • Has the phrase appeared in notable literature or works of art?

Yes, various authors and songwriters have incorporated the term into their works, reflecting its widespread recognition and impact.

  • Are there common misinterpretations of the phrase?

While the term is largely understood, some might interpret it literally, associating it directly with a high or significant time.

  • Does the term have any synonyms?

Yes, phrases like "it's about time" or "long overdue" convey similar meanings and can be used interchangeably in some contexts.

  • How can I incorporate the phrase into my daily vocabulary?

Start by using the term when discussing tasks that you believe should have been completed by now or events that you feel should happen immediately.

  • Do people use the phrase humorously or sarcastically?

Definitely! Like many idioms, you can use the term in a playful or sarcastic manner, depending on the context and tone.

Final Thoughts About “It Is High Time”

The journey of exploring idioms such as "it is high time" allows us to delve deeper into the rich tapestry of language.

  • Idioms like this enrich our vocabulary and offer a glimpse into cultural and historical contexts.
  • Understanding the roots and applications of these phrases helps us communicate more effectively and empathetically.
  • "It Is high time" serves as a poignant reminder of the urgency and importance of actions or events.
  • This idiom can add depth and flavor to casual chats and formal discussions.
  • While the phrase has stood the test of time, it's crucial to use it appropriately, understanding its nuances and implications.

Incorporating such idioms into our speech and writings makes us better communicators and connects us to the broader human experience throughout history.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

U.S Dictionary is the premier dictionary about the English language as used in the United States of America.
Copyright © 2024 - U.S. Dictionary
Privacy Policy