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Can "at this late hour" be used to mean, "it's too late", even though it's not said in reference to time?

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Can you give an example of what you have in mind? – Yozomiri Mar 29 '11 at 2:44
Like it's too late to do something, even though it's not evening yet. – language hacker Mar 29 '11 at 2:50
up vote 2 down vote accepted

While it's possible, I think it still does imply some level of uncertainty as to whether "it's too late" or not. I suppose context would change it's meaning as well.

Michael Easter's quote, for example, does afford some uncertainty as to whether it's too late.

As far as my experience goes, I've mainly heard it used in either a situation of uncertainty, as above, or a situation where one does not want to do something "at this late hour".

Consider this:

You want to write your briefing at this late hour? Get some rest, Major.

You'll never be able to rewire the circuit at this late hour. You'll have to drop out of the competition.

One is suggesting it's too late "in the game" to do something, and the other is merely suggesting it's the wrong time to be doing something.

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Yes. The phrase can be used with respect to a looming deadline.

For example, imagine an election scheduled in 2 weeks time:

At this late hour, it seems crazy for the candidate to change his stance on the tax increase, but the polling indicates drastic measures are necessary.

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