What is the meaning of the following?

You have to leave for six thirty.

(p.m. implied)

Does it mean you have to leave for your destination at 6:30 p.m.? Or does it mean that you have arrive at your destination by 6:30 p.m?

  • I've never heard that expression in my life. I usually hear leave at <time> or leave by <time>. – Code Maverick Jan 17 '14 at 22:17
  • Are you perhaps confusing this with 'You need to arrive for 7.30'? – WS2 Jan 17 '14 at 22:22
  • 3
    What @Code Maverick said. If someone did say that to me, I'd assume they meant ...leave sufficiently early that you'll arrive by six thirty. But obviously I'd ask for clarification - it would be a major disaster to be up and about anywhere near "zero dark thirty" and either still be late, or discover you'd got up significantly earlier than was actually necessary. – FumbleFingers Jan 17 '14 at 22:22
  • It was actually said to me. It could be a colloquialism particular to the speaker's ethnic group. My interpretation was that they wanted me to leave BEfore 6:30p.m. - if you leave any time before 6:30p.m., you will be on time. They actually meant I needed to arrive at 6:30p.m. What was omitted is was "to get there" between leave and for. – BIBD Jan 17 '14 at 22:31
  • Is it possible you misheard "for a 6:30"? That's a common elision in business meaning "for a 6:30 appointment". – Jonathan Van Matre Jan 17 '14 at 22:46

Now curious (for I, too, would have assumed it signified an arrival time), I googled "leave for 6:30" and "leave for 7:30" until I got at least 20 examples, omitting hits such as "some may leave for 7:30 game") and found all but one meant departure times. This also included train departure times!

By far (obviously) were statements like this one:

It's arrived, our first day of Westfield ownership, and with a 160 mile trip each way ahead of us we are up at 6, aiming to leave for 6:30.


It means they had to leave in such a time as would allow them to arrive at their destination at six-thirty. So if they reckoned they were about 20 minutes away from where they had to be at 6:30, they should leave at 6:10 at the very latest, and aim to have left a bit earlier still, to allow for delays and miscalculation.

Indeed, it's in planning that one would be particularly likely to use it, as one slots in other tasks and chores into ones mental schedule.

I'm curious to read in the comments that it's unknown to many; it's a common expression to my ear, and I thought it was standard (if informal).

  • Never heard of it! – Martin F Jan 18 '14 at 5:01
  • I do not normally do this, but may I ask you to cite references to back up your position (Irish references are fine), because I went in thinking the same thing, only to find I was wrong. Thanks :) – anongoodnurse Jan 18 '14 at 13:24
  • @Susan. No, I'm answering purely from my own use, and stating it as such; not as good an answer as one that can cite (I'm well aware that people do not speak the language they think they speak), but an answer, and honest about where it lacks. If I did have something I could cite, I certainly would (and certainly will if I find something). – Jon Hanna Jan 18 '14 at 13:27

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