What Does It’s About Time Mean?

It’s About Time Meaning

Definition: 1) Long after the correct time; 2) It’s almost time to do something.

The intonation will make it clear whether the person means definition one or two.  An annoyed, angry, or excited tone of voice usually means that the person is using definition one. A neutral tone often means definition two.

However, context is the best way to know for sure which definition the person wants to use.

An alternate expression with the same meaning as definition one is it’s high time.

An alternate expression with the same meaning as definition two is it’s about that time

Origin of It’s About Time

It is unclear exactly when this idiom originated. However, it became popular in the 1900s.

Examples of It’s About Time

it was about timeIn this conversation, two high school students are talking about a new haircut that one of them has.

Lisa: Wow! You cut your hair!

Jackie: Yeah, I decided to try something different.

Lisa: Well, it’s about time you got a haircut!

Jackie: Why do you say that?

Lisa: You’ve had the same hairstyle since I’ve known you, and I’ve known you since kindergarten.

Jackie: Oh. I guess that’s true. Do you like it?

Lisa: I love it!

it's about that timeIn the dialogue below, two friends are meeting each other to go see a movie. One of the friends is half an hour late.

Seth: Hey! I’m here! Sorry I’m late!

Jimmy: It’s about time! We’ve missed the beginning of the movie!

Seth: I know. I’m so sorry.

Jimmy: I guess we should just wait for the next showing. It should start in about an hour.

More Examples

In this excerpt, an auto mechanic was frustrated that it took so long to snow.

  • Not everyone cringed when looking out the window Monday morning at the snow. “To be honest with you I thought, ‘It’s about time,’” said Paul Oushana, 40, whose auto body shop at Hubbard and Ogden has taken a hit to its bottom line this winter — because the lack of snow has cut down on fender-benders. –Chicago Sun Times

This excerpt is from a quote. This person believes that Chicago has had problems with crime for too long.

  • It’s about time that someone realizes that the priorities in Chicago about crime and policing have been completely upside-down for far too long. –Chicago Sun Times

Summary

The phrase it’s about time means that something is past due. It often expresses annoyance that something is late.