In "Time travel” James Gleick discusses the OED definition of the noun ”time” (p248). He notes, in parentheses, that it can also function as an interjection and an obscure conjunction. Sadly, the online version of the OED does not include this lemma, and it's difficult to Google for.

Can anybody give an example of this use, and what it means?

2 Answers 2


It is listed in the online OED, only it’s on the same page as the noun definitions. Even without a subscription you can see the older version which isn’t very complete here.

Here are the definitions from the OED 3 with a random quote of each:

Eng. regional and U.S. regional. During the time that; while; when. Now rare.

1948   M. Carbery & E. Grey Herts. Heritage 145:   Time, when: ‘Time we lived Redbourne way.’

colloq. (chiefly U.S. and Caribbean). By the time that; as soon as; at the moment that.
Formerly esp. in representations of African-American usage.

1938   M. K. Rawlings Yearling ix. 78:   You git on to the sink-hole, son, and I'll foller time I've skinned out your 'coon hide.

  • 1
    That second quote is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for :)
    – Peter
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 22:25
  • 3
    The first one is just Conversational Deletion of It's from It's time we .... Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 23:42

"Time" is used in the Norfolk dialect to mean "while" e.g. "I'll cook the breakfast, time you're milking the cows".

This conjunction use does have an entry in the OED. The examples are mostly American, but it is almost certainly English in origin - used as part of the Norfolk dialect today, in exactly this way - to mean "while". It may be in more widespread dialectal use in Britain - it is just that Norfolk is the one with which I am intimately familiar.

C. conj.

  1. Eng. regional and U.S. regional. During the time that; while; when. Now rare.

1875 E. Tweddell Rhymes Cleveland Dial. 22 Let's be off,..tahme it's seea nice an' leet.

1926 E. Ferber Show Boat 124 I was keelboatin' time you was runnin' around, a barefoot on the landin'.

1948 M. Carbery & E. Grey Herts. Heritage 145 Time, when: ‘Time we lived Redbourne way.’

1950 R. Moore Candlemas Bay 13 Time Joel Walls had his net, one night he caught seven hogsids.

  • 1
    I don't understand the accepted answer, and this one really shows its use as a conjunction. Although not in the standard language. (I'm not a native speaker though)
    – croraf
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 8:20

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