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I had never heard "in the essence of time" before a recent trip to Virginia. Various local attendees of a meeting I attended used the phrase to justify moving on to a new topic, in a situation where I would expect to hear "in the interest of time."

  • Malaphor: perfect explanation. {thumbs up} – Wordster Oct 15 '18 at 23:06
  • It does not sound odd to me, but I probably use "in the interest of" or "for time's sake" more. "Time is of the essence" appears to have origins as a legal term, and in the South we do have a tendency to use older phrasings. Flip it around for the malaphor, and you've answered your own question. – livresque Aug 2 '19 at 2:15
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It strikes my ear as a malapropism, and I agree with the theory I found (the first Google result when searching the phrase in quotation marks):

This subtle malaphor is a mix of “in the interest of saving time” (in order to save time) and “time is of the essence” (meeting the deadlines is essential).

https://malaphors.com/2013/09/17/in-the-essence-of-time/

That said, language is certainly known to evolve, and there may be more happening here than I recognize. I'd be interested in a more detailed explanation, especially if someone has a reasoned argument for this phrase being useful, meaningful, or in wider use than I'm aware.

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