"2:00pm Pacific Daylight Time" is a specific time of day. In contrast, "2:00pm" is vague; without knowing the time zone, there's no way to know what exact time it refers to.

Is there a good term/phrase for partially specified times like "2:00pm"? "Clock time?" "Wall time?"

  • 1
    In what context? For most context those times are sufficiently specified and called time.
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 19:05
  • 9
    How about "local time"?
    – Hellion
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 19:07
  • 'Local time' is still deictic if unspecified. In 'We're locked in a cellar. We were drugged then flown to wherever this is. I don't know how long we were unconscious, but my watch, which has never gained or lost a second, says 2:00pm', there's more indeterminacy involved. Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 19:57
  • Broadcasters whose audience lies entirely within a single time-zone tend to give the time just in local terms. International broadcasters such as BBC World Service will generally add GMT (unless the programme is due to be repeated when they avoid any such reference). Portuguese national radio/TV always give the time both on the mainland and in the Azores, the islands being an hour earlier. Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 20:00
  • 2
    The term you are looking for is "time". It's kind of like saying "Tuesday" -- does "Tuesday" tell you exactly what day is meant???
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 23:51

1 Answer 1


I cannot find a term for a truly unqualified time. When not given, a time system is still implied, and generally it will be “my time” (the local time for the person making the utterance), unless a different system is clear in context.

More formal terms are “local time”, “civil time”, and “local standard time”. Technically, these could be different. Local time is whatever the local population thinks of as the time, civil time is the time established by local civil authorities, and standard time is the time established by standards bodies that civil authorities might or might not recognize. But since the development of reliable clocks and the need in commerce for time standards, these are frequently the same.

It’s also possible for “noon” to refer to local solar time.

With regard to utterances preserved from the past, any unqualified time might have meant local solar time, mean solar time, or railway time, depending on the locale and the context.

For more information on these terms, see the Wikipedia article “Time Zone”.

“Wall clock time” is generally used to clarify that the time given refers to time of day, instead of some kind of elapsed time or cycle time. For example, you might say that a process ended at 10:20 (elapsed time), but at 8:10 A.M. (wall clock time).

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