What Does After Hours Mean?

After Hours Meaning

Definition: Occurring later than the normal closing time.

Origin of After Hours

This expression began to become popular in the 1800s. It originated when governments passed certain laws to regulate business hours.

Once businesses were meant to close, it became after hours. This gave rise to the term after-hours club or after-hours bar, which both refer to places to get alcohol after normal hours.

Examples of After Hours

define after hoursIn the dialogue below, two men use the idiom while trying to find something to do after work.

Robert: I’d love to grab a drink. Are you free at the moment?

Marty: Yeah, I’m free, but it’s pretty late. I think most places are closed already.

Robert: Don’t worry. I know of a really good after-hours bar we can go to.

Marty: Awesome! I didn’t realize anywhere was open this late.

Robert: Yeah. There aren’t that many bars, but there are a few.

Marty: Okay. Let’s go!

what is after hoursThe second dialogue shows two students deciding whether or not to go to a special school event.

Josh: Hey, what are you doing right now?

Jeff: Nothing. Why?

Josh: I’m heading to the spoken word poetry reading at the student union.

Jeff: Oh, I think you might have missed it. The student union closes at 8 PM.

Josh: I know! They’re staying open late for this after-hours event.

Jeff: Oh, I see. Okay, I guess it could be fun. I’ll try it.

More Examples

This excerpt is about stock trading that occurred after the normal trading time had finished.

  • The announcement sent Tesla’s existing shares sharply higher in after-hours trading. –LA Times

This excerpt is about a bookstore that has events after the time that they would normally be closed.

  • In addition to carrying books, the Quiet Life also hosts after-hours book release parties. It has been a fruitful partnership, according to J.C. Gabel, Hat & Beard’s co-founder and an old friend of Mueller’s. –LA Times

Grammar and Usage

This expression acts as an adjective. When it is used before a noun, the two words are separated by a hyphen. When it is used at the end of a clause, no hyphen is necessary.


I stayed at work after hours last night.

They don’t allow us to work after hours.

There was an after-hours event at the office.

We often frequent after-hours bars.


The phrase after hours is another way to say after closing hours.