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This change has been a long time coming.

So what does this sentence really mean — the change has taken a long period of time to finally occur? Or something different?

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General Reference. But OP should note that something which has been a long time coming invariably implies long-awaited, well overdue, rather than that it has been slowly arriving over some considerable period of time. –  FumbleFingers Oct 4 '12 at 21:30
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I suppose the period of time to change the status of this question will be very brief. –  user19148 Oct 4 '12 at 21:49
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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, J.R., tchrist, Cameron, Carlo_R. Oct 5 '12 at 5:37

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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This is a special idiom in the English language. It doesn't strictly mean what it says. Its meaning is really:

This change has been needed for a long time, and now finally it is coming.

The emphasis is that it should have happened, or it was needed a long time ago, and now we are finally getting around to doing it.

For example, when the government passed laws to regulate the banks, some might say the change had been a long time coming because, in their opinion, the banks had been abusive of their unregulated status, and so finally that wrong had been righted.

Regardless of what you think of banking regulation, that would be the meaning. Not that it took a long time to happen, but rather than it had been needed for a long time.

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I think the notions of "it should have happened", "it was needed", " it had been needed for a long time" are irrelvant and incorrect. Long-anticipated, yes; necessary or positive, not necessarily. –  jwpat7 Oct 5 '12 at 1:23
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