What Does Ahead of Time Mean?

Ahead of Time Meaning

Definition: In advance.

If you do something ahead of time, you do it with preparation. You complete something or get ready for something before it is due or needed. It is the same as saying beforehand.

If you add a subject to the phrase, it takes on a slightly different meaning. If a person is ahead of his time, or an idea is ahead of its time, it means that the person or idea is advanced, usually too advanced for current technological abilities or the current society.

Technology and society will later catch up. It can be said that Thomas Edison was ahead of his time for inventing the electric light bulb; now, however, we consider this kind of utility to be commonplace.

Origin of Ahead of Time

Ahead of our timeThere is no specific origin of the phrase, but it stems naturally from the idea that you do something ahead of, or before, the time needed.

Example of Ahead of Time

Ahead of time is a common modern phrase used to talk about doing something in preparation for something else. A lot of people will prepare Thanksgiving dishes ahead of time so that they have less work to do on Thanksgiving day itself.

Teachers plan their lessons ahead of time, so they are ready to give to a class. Families will often look up things to do on their next vacation ahead of time, so that they have a plan when they arrive.

Meaning of a head of timeHere is an example dialogue of two college students using the phrase,

Sam: Hey, Charlie, how are you coming on your research paper?

Charlie: Actually, I already finished it. I handed it in last week.

Sam: What? How did you get it done already?

Charlie: It was assigned over a month ago. I decided to write it and turn it in ahead of time so that I didn’t have to rush at the last minute.

Sam: Lucky! I’m stuck writing mine all weekend.

More Examples

  • Alex Huang, a spokesman for Tsai, told the Reuters news agency, “Of course both sides agreed ahead of time before making contact.” –The Washington Post


Doing something ahead of time is to do something before it is needed so that you are ready when the moment arrives.