What Does to Bide One’s Time Mean?

Bide One’s Time Meaning

Definition: To wait patiently and quietly for the right moment to arrive.

The word bide means to remain or stay in a specific condition or state, as if you are waiting. The wait implied in the phrase biding ones time usually has the connotation of being something one must endure.

When you know you really want something but asking for it before its time would result in failure, you
bide your time
and wait until the moment arrives that would ensure success.

It is most often used to talk about a lengthy period of time, as in months or years, rather than hours or

Origin of Bide Ones Time

biding his timeThe usage of the word bide dates back to Old English, in about the mid 900s, with original meanings including to wait for, to endure, or to tolerate. There is also an Indo-European influence from the word beidh that, while unconfirmed, probably meant compel oneself.

In the past, bide your time was probably a natural combination of words, while today the word bide is used only in this expression and is very rarely seen outside of the idiom.

Example of Bide Ones Time

bide your timeIn the modern day, people use this expression to speak about waiting for the opportune moment.

“The cat sat in front of the mouse hole, biding his time,” means that the cat was waiting patiently to pounce until the mouse appeared.

In the job sphere, someone might want to ask for a raise, but bides his or her time until the most favorable opportunity presents itself.

More Examples

  • “And if you want [your unavailable partner’s] got, what story do you tell yourself as you bide your time? That living without is the new normal?” –The New York Times
  • “Look, I definitely am not saying that the right [political] ideas will win out over time and we should patiently bide our time until that happens. We have no time to bide.” –Dallas Observer


Biding your time is waiting patiently for the moment that will ensure success in whatever endeavor you are involved in.