tell (the) time

Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!

tell (the) time

1. Of a person, to be able to understand the time of day by looking at an analog clock or watch. Now that many young children carry phones around with them, it's becoming harder and harder to teach them how to tell time.
2. Of a clock or watch, to keep track of the current time of day. My grandfather's old pocket watch doesn't tell the time anymore, but I really like the look of having it on me.
See also: tell, time
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

tell time

 
1. Lit. to keep or report the correct time. This clock doesn't tell time very accurately. My watch stopped telling time, so I had to have it repaired.
2. Fig. to be able to read time from a clock or watch. Billy is only four. He can't tell time yet. They are teaching the children to tell time at school.
See also: tell, time
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

tell time

Keep track of the hours; also, know how to read a clock or watch. For example, This old clock still tells time quite accurately, or He taught his niece to tell time by using a cuckoo clock. This expression uses tell in the sense of "reckon" or "calculate," a usage dating from about a.d. 1000.
See also: tell, time
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

tell the ˈtime

(British English) (American English tell ˈtime) read the time from a clock, etc: She’s only five — she hasn’t learnt to tell the time yet.
See also: tell, time
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

tell time

To determine the time of day indicated by the positions of the hands on a clock.
See also: tell, time
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.