Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia.
To engage in an activity, usually a rather aimless or idle one, with the goal of making time seem to pass more quickly or less slowly. I'm going to walk down to the bookstore to kill time before my flight. Do you want anything? It used to be that people killed time at the train station by talking to each other, but now everyone is nose-deep in their phone.
Fig. to use something up, especially time. I killed time reading a novel. The employees were not encouraged to kill time.
Pass time aimlessly. For example, There was nothing to do, so I sat around killing time until dinner was ready. This idiom was first recorded about 1768.
kill timedo things to make time seem to pass more quickly and to avoid getting bored, especially while waiting for something.
kill ˈtime, a couple of ˈhours, etc.,
have ˈtime, a couple of ˈhours, etc. to killdo something to help pass the time while you are waiting for something: ‘What did you do at the airport when your plane was late?’ ‘We killed time by playing cards and doing crosswords.’ ♢ I had two hours to kill before the train left, so I went to see a movie.
kill time, to
To make time pass by performing some unessential activity. The term dates from the early 1700s. Leslie Stephen had it in Hours in the Library (1874), “Tapestry, in which ladies employed their needles by way of killing time.” In a theater review in the Boston Globe (Feb. 1, 2005), Ed Siegel wrote, “As Josh and Sal . . . kill time in a hospital waiting room, nervous about whether a third friend is going to survive a drug overdose.”
See also: kill