I am looking for a better, possibly idiomatic, phrase to describe the place in time "since the hour last changed".

A simplistic example: if the time was 6.31pm, it would be thirty-one minutes since the hour last changed. Another usage could be for whenever a counter is reset every hour, on the hour. For example, if a counter estimating the children born in the world was reset each hour, is there a better way to say "X children were born since the hour changed"?

  • 2
    "since the top of the hour" Oct 10, 2018 at 10:49
  • @Chappo it's worth pointing out that "the top of the hour" is an Americanism. That was my understanding at least, and Merriam Webster seems to agree. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/at%20the%20top%20of%20the%20hour Oct 10, 2018 at 10:54
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    A native British English speaker, I recognised 'top of the hour' but as @MaxWilliams notes (and as the Ngram shows, it is hugely more usual in AmE than BrE.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 10, 2018 at 11:14
  • If you were going to document the number of children as X, you would know what the hour had been which was just passed, so you would just say 'since Y hour, X children ...'.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 10, 2018 at 11:16
  • @MaxWilliams it was the first phrase that occurred to me, and I'm Australian, so I think it's quite widely understood. Oct 10, 2018 at 11:18

2 Answers 2


It may sound old-fashioned, but this sounds idiomatic: since the clock last struck the hour

"X children were born since the clock last struck the hour"


strike the hour

if a clock strikes the hour, it shows that it is exactly one o’clock, two o’clock etc by making a sound once, twice etc


Striking clock (some background)

A striking clock (also known as chiming clock) is a clock that sounds the hours audibly on a bell or gong. In 12-hour striking, used most commonly in striking clocks today, the clock strikes once at 1:00 A.M., twice at 2:00 A.M., continuing in this way up to twelve times at 12:00 P.M., then starts again, striking once at 1:00 P.M., twice at 2:00 P.M., up to twelve times at 12:00 A.M.

Surprisingly, the usage of this term seems to be picking up as per this Google Ngram: enter image description here


To formalize some comments made to the question itself, another idiomatic phrase is at the top of the hour:


: at the beginning of the hour (at 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, etc.)
// The program is scheduled to start at the top of the hour.

As noted by Merriam-Webster, this has primarily US usage. However, it is used elsewhere as well.

In the particular sentence in question, it could be expressed as:

X children were born since the top of the hour.

In contrast, there is also at the bottom of the hour, but this is less common and it doesn't have a similar entry in Merriam-Webster.

If we go by the printed word alone, Google's Books Ngram Viewer shows almost equal usage between at the top of the hour and struck the hour:


What's interesting is that struck the hour used to be a lot more common. For whatever reason, its general trend has been to decline. Meanwhile, the use of top of the hour has been increasing since about 1985.

If you change the corpus used, you'll see that top of the hour is actually slightly more common in the US—but that in the UK it's noticeably less common (although still in use).

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