beat the clock

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beat the clock (third-person singular simple present beats the clock, present participle beating the clock, simple past beat the clock, past participle beaten the clock)

  1. (idiomatic) To perform a task or successfully complete an activity within a time limit.
    • 2010 Nov. 26, Ron Lieber, "A Dying Banker’s Last Instructions," New York Times (retrieved 25 Aug 2014):
      He and Mr. Goldie have managed to beat the clock, finishing and printing the book themselves while Mr. Murray is still alive.
    • 2012 Sept. 16, Mike Brehm, "Milan Lucic, Evander Kane lead under-the-wire signings," USA Today (retrieved 25 Aug 2014):
      Evander Kane just beat the clock in the final hour before the NHL lockout, agreeing to terms with the Winnipeg Jets on a six-year, $31.5 million contract.
  2. (idiomatic) To be used or become operational before a deadline or date of expiration.
    • 1994 April 5, "A Break for Hunt," Time (retrieved 25 Aug 2014):
      Judge Randall Thomas dropped a dozen theft charges against Hunt . . ., ruling that the indictment came after a three-year state statute of limitations had run out. One ethics charge—punishable by up to $10,000 and 10 years behind bars—did beat the clock.
  3. (idiomatic) To remain youthful; to live a long, healthy life.
    • 1995 July 16, Phil Davison, "A Very Big Fish Indeed," The Independent (UK) (retrieved 25 Aug 2014):
      [T]he man who looked like an ageing rocker trying to beat the clock, was none other than Robert Lee Vesco.
    • 2013 Sept. 15, "Anti-age your health," Guardian (UK) (retrieved 25 Aug 2014):
      From getting a good night's sleep to keeping your teeth and gums healthy, there are plenty of tricks you can employ to beat the clock.