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In the expression we leave at eight thirty for nine, what time is the departure going to be?

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There is possibly a little ambiguity here, since this type of expression is occasionally used to mean "we will plan to meet early in case there are delays or stragglers."

So it might for example be said "we will meet at 8:30 for a 9:00 start", meaning that it will acceptable to arrive at any point within the half-hour, though arriving early is encouraged.

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I've never heard it but this quote indicates you're correct: "It appeared that 'six-thirty for seven o'clock precisely' meant seven-fifteen." gutenberg.org/cache/epub/5247/pg5247.html – z7sg Ѫ Aug 6 '11 at 16:25
In these days of mobile phones I suppose you'd just ring the people you were supposed to be leaving with at 8:30 if they weren't there by then. I might wait if they then said they wouldn't arrive for another 30 minutes, but I'd probably be exceptionally irritated. So I might just say "Sod you, then!" and go without them. – FumbleFingers Aug 6 '11 at 23:05
...I would not excuse them for choosing to place this interpretation on the agreed timerscale. :) – FumbleFingers Aug 6 '11 at 23:07

It means you leave at 8:30 expecting to arrive wherever you need to be by 9:00.

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what time is the departure going to be?

The departure time is at 8:30

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