What Does Buy Some Time Mean?

To Buy Some Time Meaning

Definition: To find a way to postpone an event for which you are not ready.

When you need more time to prepare for something and you can find a way to postpone the event, it is said that you have bought yourself some time.

Buying time means to come into possession of time in order to complete a project that you previously didn’t have, but through some clever means, you have managed to get extra time.

It should be noted that buying time doesn’t have to do with a financial transaction in any way.

Origin of To Buy Some Time

How to buy timeThe phrase appears to have come from the turn of the 20th century. It was, however, seen in a book in the 1850s, though it seems to have been a one-off, making sense only in that context. Arthur Schopenhauer wrote, in Counsels and Maxims (1851):

  • To buy books would be a good thing if we also could buy the time to read them.

It didn’t catch on as an expression until a few decades later; we can read in a 1903 edition of the Willmar Tribune:

  • If you don’t intend to buy, call anyway. You will buy some time and we want you to know us and what we have.

The earliest uses were most likely storekeepers’ clever advertising promising ways to save time,

  • If you buy this product, you are essentially buying time.

Examples of To Buy Some Time

Buying time meaning In the modern day, with its fast-paced rhythm, people are always looking for ways to buy time.

For example,

  • My colleague went to talk to the boss to buy some time for me to finish up my preparation for the meeting.


  • I took my dad to the movies and bought some time for my sister to clean the house like we were supposed to.

More Examples

  • As a result of the 2016 surplus, the county has bought some time to correct its problem of over-spending fund balance monies to create an unsustainably low county tax rate. –The Laconia Daily Sun
  • “Essentially, President Obama has just bought some time for the process to catch up,” Hagel said. –The Washington Post


To buy some time means to do something to extend the period of time before something happens, usually to better prepare or to finish a task.