turn the clock back
turn the/(one's) clock(s) back
1. To adjust the time on one's clock(s) back by one hour to account for the end of daylight saving time. Don't forget to turn your clock back tonight. I hate having to turn the clocks back every autumn, it's such an antiquated custom.
2. To attempt to return to an earlier time or situation. I really don't know if she'll forgive you—you said some terrible things to her, and you can't just turn the clock back. I wish I could turn my clock back to when I was a kid and didn't have any responsibilities.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
turn the clock backand turn back the clock
1. Lit. to set a clock to an earlier time. I have to turn the clocks back each fall. Please turn back the clock.
2. Fig. to try to return to the past. You are not facing up to the future. You are trying to turn the clock back to a time when you were more comfortable. Let us turn back the clock and pretend we are living at the turn of the century—the time that our story takes place.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
turn the clock backor
turn back the clock
COMMON If you would like to turn the clock back or to turn back the clock, you would like to return to an earlier period, usually because you would like the chance to change something that you did in the past. I'd like to turn the clock back and do things differently, but I can't. If I could turn back the clock, I might not have said that. Note: You can use the verb put instead of turn. No amount of money — not even millions like this — can put back the clock and change what happened.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
put/turn the ˈclock backreturn to the past; return to old-fashioned ideas, customs, etc: Sometimes I wish I could turn the clock back to my days as a student. ♢ These new restrictions on medical research will undoubtedly put the clock back (by) 20 years.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
turn the clock back, to
To return to an earlier way of life; to restore past conditions. This metaphor dates from the nineteenth century and generally represents a vain attempt to return to a past era. “You can’t turn back the hands of the clock,” wrote Erle Stanley Gardner (The Case of the Turning Tide, 1941).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer