tell the time

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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. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, 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
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References in classic literature ?
The sheep are feeding there, when I kneel up, early in the morning, in my little bed in a closet within my mother's room, to look out at it; and I see the red light shining on the sun-dial, and think within myself, 'Is the sun-dial glad, I wonder, that it can tell the time again?'
"Else why should he talk about his 'twenty minutes past' and about his having no watch to tell the time by?
George Ezra may have topped the charts and won a gong at the O2 Silver Clef Awards - but the 25-year-old still can't tell the time.
REGARDING the recent letter concerning children being unable to tell the time (May 5).
For we later found out he doesn't know how to tell the time - or blow his nose.
The report, which surveyed 1,522 adults, found that in an office setting using a watch to tell the time is seen as looking more professional, while taking out a mobile phone in a meeting was viewed as time wasting.