Is there a better word or way of saying give or take to refer to the possibility of inaccuracy? For example,

I will be arriving in 30 minutes, give or take 5 minutes.

I want to indicate the possibility of arriving within five minutes of either side. So about or approximately are too vague.

  • Not specify, just indicate there is the possibility that I can arrive 5 minutes either side of in 30 minutes. – Awemo Jun 10 '12 at 19:10

There isn't a "better" way of saying it.

In a more formal context you might say something more like "to within five minutes", and in a more "geeky" context you might say (or more likely write) "+/- 5 minutes".

But for most purposes (in particular, speech) OP should just stick with "give or take".

  • 3
    ±5 > +/‒5 > +/- 5 – Jon Purdy Jun 11 '12 at 4:32

In a technical or scientific context, you can use "with a tolerance of".

For example:

The process is expected to complete in 30 minutes with a tolerance of 5 minutes.

  • The scientific merits of your answer sound very good, I am however looking for a more commonplace term/expression. – Awemo Jun 10 '12 at 19:08
  • 4
    Using Bruno's suggestion in everyday conversation might get you noticed. "I'll be there at 4:30, with a tolerance of 5 minutes." That might be a great way to set a date with someone wearing this shirt – J.R. Jun 11 '12 at 10:05
  • @J.R. It can get worse... How about "I will be arriving in 30+t minutes, where -5 <= t <= 5"? – b.roth Jun 11 '12 at 17:22
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    @Bruno: That's rather hard to say conversationally, but that's a great way to text it! :^) – J.R. Jun 11 '12 at 17:25

"I will be arriving in 30 minutes, Plus or minus 5 minutes". "I will be arriving in 25 to 35 minutes". "I will be arriving within 5 minutes of 4:30". "I'll be there about 4:30".


Or simply: I'll be there between 4:25 and 4:35.

But if you are looking for a commonplace expression, "give or take" is it.

  • The problem with that is that cultural expectations of allowable slack that still counts as that time vary a great deal. For example, try that in Switzerland versus in Mexico, or even in Boston versus Los Angeles for that matter. I can just see somebody adding another 10 or 15 minutes of slack to both sides of that, meaning you actually need to expect them anywhere between 4:10 – 4:50 instead of the originally stated 4:25 – 4:35. Perhaps best to say 4:30, and to call if you’re going to miss that by more than a minute or three. Or five. See the problem? – tchrist Jun 10 '12 at 22:07

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