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

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).


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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