I am translating a text where the following appears:

Dave, it's your boss. You owe me a shift this Saturday. You really need to, time for time.

I was trying to look for a definition for this "time for time", but after quite some time spent for searching, I could not locate one that fits. I have an idea what it means but would like have a definition. Also, I wonder if this is a common expression or just coined.

I also think that there is a possibility of a typo (from mistranscription) and it actually means “You really need to, time to time.” (That is he needs to work a Saturday shift ocassionally.)

Any suggestions?

  • It refers to a “time” shift, so it is time in exchange for time.
    – user 66974
    Feb 23, 2018 at 22:22
  • 3
    It corresponds to 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'. An exact equivalence. Saturday 6pm - 9pm for Saturday 6pm - 9pm. Feb 23, 2018 at 22:32
  • 1
    Is it a play on the idiom 'from time to time'? Feb 23, 2018 at 22:41
  • 3
    time = hours worked [on a shift]. Dave apparently took a shift off for some reason or couldn't find someone to trade shifts with him, so he owes his boss the same number of hours, time for time, as he took off.
    – KarlG
    Feb 23, 2018 at 23:22
  • 1
    @marcellothearcane: no, it's not a play on anything else. It is simply as Edwin says
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 23, 2018 at 23:58

1 Answer 1


Is it translated from a Dutch text by any chance? In Dutch Tijd voor Tijd (Time for Time) means that you have to make up hours you worked less at a later date. Similarly, it means that overtime isn't paid, but you have to work less at a later date. You can 'save' it as leave.

  • Very interesting. No, it is not from Dutch, but as it turned out, "time for time" simply means that he has to make up the same hours. Nothing special. As in the comments above.
    – ib11
    Nov 2, 2018 at 1:19

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