Definition of tell the time in English:

tell the time

(North American tell time)

phrase

  • Be able to ascertain the time from reading the face of a clock or watch.

    • ‘I have a digital/analogue watch that tells the time in 42 countries, solar powered, alarm, stopwatch, date, waterproof to 100 metres.’
    • ‘Only the clock face is fairly simple and that is because people needed to be able to tell the time easily.’
    • ‘The Swiss had cleverly realised that a watch isn't for telling the time at all, but is instead a fashion statement.’
    • ‘A supermarket worker was able to tell the time on a digital watch but not on the analogue clock in the staff canteen.’
    • ‘Unmistakably, these watches do more than telling the time.’
    • ‘Mechanical watches also require servicing every three years to keep the watch working in good condition and tell the time accurately.’
    • ‘I looked at my watch but it was too dark to tell the time.’
    • ‘But if you want a work of art, a thing of beauty that also tells the time, buy a clock.’
    • ‘Clocks told the time, windmills ground corn, cranes lifted things and so on.’
    • ‘He reasoned that the movement of a ship was guided by skilled intelligence, and a sundial or water clock told the time by design rather than by chance.’