Definition of hour in English:



  • 1A period of time equal to a twenty-fourth part of a day and night and divided into 60 minutes.

    ‘an extra hour of daylight in the winter evenings’
    ‘rates of pay were low, starting at £3.20 an hour’
    as modifier, usually with preceding numeral ‘a two-hour operation’
    • ‘Ivan tried to keep track of the hours, minutes and seconds, but she lost it somewhere.’
    • ‘He followed that in Austria last year by knocking two hours 22 minutes off his previous time.’
    • ‘The thought of being entertained purely by tap for an hour and twenty minutes sounds mind-numbing and mundane.’
    • ‘This is called anaphylaxis and can happen within minutes to hours of exposure to the substance that the person is allergic to.’
    • ‘So, that's about an hour and twenty minutes from now, and we'll keep you posted on that one.’
    • ‘After waiting for an hour and twenty minutes for our meals, we decided to do a runner and not pay for the drinks we had consumed in the meantime.’
    • ‘Well the appointment was a big waste of an hour and twenty minutes.’
    • ‘The clock in her car, for example, remains about an hour and twenty minutes off, and remains a mystery to me.’
    • ‘The Queen had a full schedule and was only able to stay an hour and twenty minutes.’
    • ‘Seven members of the team stayed through the night - which included an extra hour thanks to daylight saving.’
    • ‘For older pupils the aim is to increase time spent on PE from one hour and 20 minutes to two hours a week by 2007.’
    • ‘All of you will be putting in an extra two hours every day next week just for that little stunt.’
    • ‘Toghar Pairc is within 15 minutes of Bray and within an hour's drive of the city centre.’
    • ‘The throw in time is 7.30 and if the sides are again deadlocked at the end of the hour thirty minutes extra time will be played.’
    • ‘Out of an hour and twenty minute class, I gave them the entire period to spend amongst each other.’
    • ‘It may be minutes, hours days or even years that you are helping yet the gratitude will be there.’
    • ‘Seconds turned to minutes, and minutes turned into hours with equal grace and ease.’
    • ‘My parents strode in two hours later and within minutes we were screaming at each other.’
    • ‘Tomasson mentioned that Balanchine had created the work in an hour and twenty minutes, asking Tomasson to show it to him.’
    • ‘We had to split the journey up into little segments, so what should have taken an hour and twenty minutes must have taken best part of three hours.’
    moment, time, point in time, moment in time, minute, second
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    1. 1.1 A more indefinite period of time.
      ‘during the early hours of the morning’
      • ‘Very few manage to make time to go to a health club in the morning or evening hours, when it is usually open to all.’
      • ‘Suddenly the silence of the morning hours was broken by a soft buzzing noise in the far distance.’
      • ‘Two days later a relative left in the very early hours of the morning, to avoid the heat, with the coffin in the back of a buckie.’
      • ‘We used to be against each other for a lot of years in those early morning hours, remember?’
      • ‘It's not out of the ordinary for vehicles to pull in at that time of the morning, late hours.’
      • ‘The other biggest concern was the overwhelming heat during the peak hours of the evening.’
      • ‘Youths are seen seriously doing workouts during early morning and late evening hours.’
      • ‘They sneak in in the midnight hours, but grey-headed women come to jeer them as they pass.’
      • ‘It is now a daily occurrence for staff to be asked to work back far into the night and early hours of the morning.’
      • ‘For the first time, she was glad of the fact that Carden had them travel during the dark hours.’
      • ‘They came in handy for strollers to take a spot of rest during the morning and evening hours.’
      • ‘So, all my knowledge of art came from scavenged bits and pieces in the late hours of the morning.’
      • ‘He tripped this morning and he fell in the early morning hours while he was getting dressed.’
      • ‘One of the things I always get told off for is my habit of staying up till wee hours in the morning.’
      • ‘Non-news channels like the Food Network will simply play mellow music during the crucial morning hours.’
      • ‘Let me zoom you into a couple problem areas that we have seen through the morning hours.’
      • ‘Even those working in the early morning hours keep their heads swathed in cloth.’
      • ‘Embers began burning in the east, casting light upon the land in the early winter hours.’
      • ‘Why not transform the empty night-time hours of the Yorkshire Museum into profitable activity?’
      • ‘She sat silently through the hours as the sun traveled across the sky and she stayed even as it fell.’
    2. 1.2 The distance travelled in one hour.
      ‘Ocean City is less than an hour away’
      • ‘Dad had been gone all day for some case that required him to travel three hours away.’
      • ‘They traveled a few hours down the road and found the horses that Arnon was talking about.’
      • ‘Yep, that's a total of nearly £1000 for two people to travel the few hours to Birmingham.’
      • ‘They'd traveled about an hour away from Kol when Beau materialized out of the tree.’
      • ‘That meant she would have to be traveling many hours away from home just to go to college.’
      • ‘I would roll out of bed, into training, now I have to get up with more purpose and travel over an hour to work.’
      • ‘We travelled one hour up the Pearl River by high-speed jet boats to the port of Zhongshan.’
      • ‘A few hours before midday and an hour out of the mountains, they came to a large field.’
  • 2A time of day specified as an exact number of hours from midnight or midday.

    ‘the clock in the sitting room struck the hour’
    • ‘Come to me later in the evening in the seventh hour after midday, and I will give the prescription to you.’
    • ‘At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.’
    • ‘Conor Galgey from Rossvale in Portlaoise was anxiety waiting for the midnight hour.’
    • ‘Hearing the clock upon an old building chime the hour of one in the morning, Alaina became more anxious.’
    • ‘Listening to this radio show, though, you can't help but fall in love with music to listen to at the midnight hour.’
    • ‘Ask yourself, why did India awake to light and freedom at the stroke of the midnight hour…’
    • ‘He heard bells chime in the distance, singing the hour, but he saw them as bells of freedom.’
    • ‘Throughout their stay at Kandahar the guards carried out head-counts every hour at night to keep the prisoners awake.’
    • ‘His single cell was the last on the range of twenty-one cells and thus was reached some minutes after the hour.’
    • ‘A clock chimed the hour in the distance, and Gracelin suddenly felt very tired.’
    • ‘I left Dublin after the midnight hour and rolled west along the road, all too well aware that part of my link with the old city had come to an end.’
    early years, early life, young days, teens, teenage years, adolescence, young adulthood, boyhood, girlhood, childhood
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    1. 2.1hourswith preceding numeral A time specified on the twenty-four-hour clock.
      ‘the first bomb fell at 0051 hours’
      • ‘Visa applications can be submitted from Monday to Friday from 08:00 hours to 12:00 hours and from 13:00 to 16:00 hours.’
      • ‘The monthly charge covers scheduled servicing carried out between 08:00 to 18:00 hours Monday to Friday.’
    2. 2.2 The time as formerly reckoned from sunrise.
      ‘it was about the ninth hour’
      • ‘Birds arrived between the end of the third hour after sunset and sunrise.’
      • ‘And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’
      • ‘And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.’
      • ‘Unfortunately towards the end of the race during the ninth hour, we had to make a pit stop because we have a technical problem with the engine starter.’
  • 3A fixed period of time for an activity, such as work, use of a building, etc.

    ‘the dinner hour’
    ‘licensing hours’
    ‘opening hours’
    • ‘The new recruits will also be expected to travel long distances and work anti-social hours.’
    • ‘The restrictions on drinking establishments and licensing hours date from this period.’
    • ‘He said he believed a few may apply for longer hours ahead of the deadline in November and then only for one extra hour or two.’
    • ‘Working hours can be purposefully staggered to meet the needs of the organisation and the individual.’
    • ‘Both the boys followed them, saying it was too dangerous to walk around the school building after school hours.’
    • ‘In my home city they are now considering longer licensing hours to entice the tourists to keep coming.’
    • ‘He is more impressed with the proposal to do away with fixed pub hours, planned for both Scotland and England.’
    • ‘A short game has been fine-tuned, while other long hours have been set aside for strength and fitness work in the gym.’
    • ‘Nearly half cited the changes in working hours as the purpose of the deal.’
    • ‘Divorce or long working hours can cause emotional distance from your children.’
    • ‘I like to participate in company activities outside working hours, as it is a good way to get to know your colleagues better.’
    • ‘It also means that many cannot work long hours or travel long distances to find a job.’
    • ‘This course costs 50 with a morning or evening session to suit all working hours.’
    • ‘The shopping will keep similar hours to the leisure and entertainment areas.’
    • ‘Mr Hilton wanted to retain the morning hours of the shop and decided to open Monday to Friday.’
    • ‘The purpose of this bill is to abolish shop trading hour restrictions on Easter Sunday.’
    • ‘She has since cut back on her hours and the distances she travels to spend more time with her family.’
    • ‘We have precious little time as it is, but I try to set aside hours to do just that.’
    • ‘It becomes a Herculean task for them to reach their respective shops during morning hours.’
    • ‘I also think the relaxation of off license trading hours will help a lot.’
    1. 3.1 A particular point in time.
      ‘I wondered if my last hour had come’
      ‘you can't turn him away at this hour’
      • ‘I cannot seem to achieve anything if I don't have a deadline with a date and a fixed hour, looming over my head.’
      • ‘The exact hour is hidden in God's design, yet we can be certain that he will come again as the King of Love.’
      • ‘The night went on without a hitch, but an hour had past, twelve midnight, the bewitching hour.’
      • ‘Then, at the midnight hour of the request to extradite him, only THEN did they offer to hand him over to the Pakistan courts.’
      • ‘The period was not the studio's finest hour and he did not fit in, spending more time hiding in a cupboard than at his desk drawing.’
      • ‘Day and night make little difference and there are no closing hours or weekends.’
      • ‘The baby chooses the hour and minute of birth, the parents the year and month, and the place.’
  • 4hours(in the Western (Latin) Church) a short service of psalms and prayers to be said at a particular time of day, especially in religious communities.

    ‘an organized life of prayer including the canonical hours’
    • ‘The Liturgy of the Hours is centered on chanting or recitation of the Psalms, using fixed melodic formulas known as psalm tones.’
    • ‘The Hours correspond to the Old Testament services beginning each of the four "watches" of the day.’
  • 5Astronomy
    15° of longitude or right ascension (one twenty-fourth part of a circle).

    • ‘Any object on the same hour circle will have the same right ascension, just as any place on earth on the same meridian of longitude has the same longitude.’
    • ‘If the right ascension of objects transiting the meridian is 12 hours, then an object rising at the same time due east has a right ascension of 18 hours and an object setting due west has a right ascension of 6 hours.’


  • all hours

    • Most of the time, especially outside the time considered usual.

      ‘teenagers expect to be allowed to stay out to all hours’
      • ‘I wrote and arranged music, and produced hit records at all hours of the night and weekends.’
      • ‘They forced the Government's hand over Sunday trading by illegally opening all hours, to the delight of shoppers.’
      • ‘People living nearby fear for their own homes, after a number of fires at the site, and are worried children are often inside at all hours.’
      • ‘She had a special key to the Sheen Gate, so she had access to White Lodge at all hours.’
      • ‘Applicant Ian Curwen is hoping to re-open the garage, offering petrol and garage-shop fare at all hours.’
      • ‘Those who have to suffer the consequences are wondering why local parents are letting their teenagers run amok at all hours of the night.’
      • ‘People gather at all hours of the day, some staring in awe, others simply curious.’
      • ‘If they didn't expect shops to open all hours then they wouldn't.’
      • ‘So, naturally they may play football or volleyball outside your room at all hours of the day and night.’
      • ‘I've seen some of them wandering about at all hours of the night.’
  • keep late (or regular) hours

    • Get up and go to bed late (or at the same time) every day.

      ‘she'd been under the impression that natives of Spanish-speaking countries kept late hours’
      • ‘You share order-in pizza or sandwiches from the all-night deli or you slip our for noodles at the Chinese place that keeps late hours.’
      • ‘Mind you, I've not yet seen him - he seems to keep late hours, but has apparently been preparing for a conference in Cyprus that he is now away upon.’
      • ‘I keep late hours and wake early in the morning.’
      • ‘It appears that my unidentified contact keeps late hours.’
      • ‘Dependent on the passing trade, Istanbul is open seven days a week and keeps late hours.’
  • on the hour

    • At the same time every hour, or at the beginning of each hour.

      ‘news bulletins all day on the hour’
      • ‘A child's handful of balloons escapes, as they must do every hour on the hour, and floats away over the Magic Kingdom.’
      • ‘I can tell you that over the past five days we've done a count every hour on the hour, and it's well under 10 minutes.’
      • ‘Same goes if you're doing it every hour on the hour.’
      • ‘It felt like a gradual poem coming across the TV screen in the same way a news story keeps adding one tiny little detail every hour on the hour.’
      • ‘I rang every hour, on the hour, until three in the morning, for several nights.’
  • out of hours

    • Available or taking place during the period of the day in which business is not normally conducted.

      ‘our out of hours GP service’
      • ‘"People must ring the Out of Hours number first," she said.’
      • ‘The department provides an Out of Hours noise patrol on 4 nights of the week.’
      • ‘The finder of Bella should have notified the Dog Warden Service as soon as she was found and we and the Out of Hours contractor would have arranged reunification ASAP!’
      • ‘The Out of Hours team consists of six social workers and a team manager.’
      • ‘I rang the Out Of Hours doctor who immediately arranged an appointment for me.’
  • within the hour

    • After less than an hour.

      ‘his response came within the hour’
      • ‘They would have been back on the streets within the hour.’
      • ‘Your order is processed within the hour when ordering during normal business hours.’
      • ‘If the recovery time is not spontaneous within the hour, then recovery times can vary from weeks to several months, and permanent damage may have occurred.’
      • ‘The prime minister will go to the White House within the hour.’
      • ‘We're going to have a vote within the hour on this apparently.’


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French ure, via Latin from Greek hōra ‘season, hour’.