The phrase, "Time flies when you're having fun," is often used when one has become absorbed in an activity and lost track of time. I'm looking for a word to describe something that has a tendency to cause someone to lose track of time. I want a word that can be used similarly to something like:

It is a very time-consuming activity.

However, I do not want the word to imply the activity necessitates a large amount of time. Rather, it should imply that the activity is absorbing enough that one spends a large amount of time doing it, without noticing if it's been a long time. I feel as if I know the word I am looking for, it is simply on the tip of my tongue and just out of reach. I'm sorry if my examples and descriptions make little sense. Any help is appreciated though.

  • It's not one word, but "zoning out on Facebook".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 21:39
  • Clearly one such word is "fun".
    – Drew
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 23:02
  • 6
    – ermanen
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 0:03
  • 1
    @ermanen If you have time, it's preferred that you post that as an answer rather than a comment.
    – kettlecrab
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 0:48
  • 5
    You own term absorbing activity works in that context.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 2:36

6 Answers 6


Engrossing, perhaps.

engrossing adjective

very interesting and needing all your attention:

  • an engrossing book/story
  • I found the movie completely engrossing from beginning to end.

Cambridge Dictionary


The activity allows one to enter flow, "the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity" (link and quote from Wikipedia).

For many, including myself, when I enter a period of flow, it is only ended by the sudden and surprising realization that I have not eaten, urinated, or performed other basic needs for that entire time, and out of nowhere they have become urgent.

Some games, a challenging puzzle, some tasks at work (I write software code) and such have caused me to experience this type of flow.

  • This is a noun, not an adjective.
    – Pyritie
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 18:02

"engross" is the best word for it, as suggested.

You could also use the expression "to lose oneself in (something)".


I may have slightly misread the question. Thanks to @Tiny Giant for the subtle prod :o)

As a word for the activity, a distraction and diversion are the most literal I can think of and I'd say both short and on the mark.

Both can be used in adjective form too - a distracting, or diverting, activity.

  • 1
    "It is a very distracting activity" works fairly well to articulate the OP's intent I think.
    – Tiny Giant
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 1:20
  • You're quite right - I'll update my answer :o) Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 1:26
  • I do think “[X] is a great diversion” is more idiomatic, but I guess that's subjective. Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 1:32

Consuming, or stronger, all-consuming are common adjectives for these kinds of activities.

Per Google’s dictionary entry:




adjective: consuming

(of a feeling) completely filling one's mind and attention; absorbing.

"a consuming passion"




adjective: all-consuming

completely filling one's mind and attention; obsessive.

"the period was one of fiery, all-consuming work for Van Gogh"

  • Answers should consist mostly of your own words, not of text copied from elsewhere.
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 12:21
  • 1
    @tchrist How is this any different from any of literally hundreds of other single-word-request answers on this site that consist of a suggestion and its dictionary entry? Including the highest-voted answer to this question, at the moment. I completely agree with the premise but for single-word-requests there often doesn’t seem much more to say.
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 14:24

An idiomatic saying for this is spellbinding

Spellbinding : holding the attention as if by a spell

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