give the time of day

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According to some, the expression originally literally referred to greeting someone with the obsolete greeting "good time of day", or other greeting appropriate to the time of day, and only later acquired an association with telling someone the time, along with its idiomatic sense.


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give the time of day (third-person singular simple present gives the time of day, present participle giving the time of day, simple past gave the time of day, past participle given the time of day)

  1. (idiomatic) To acknowledge someone; to give someone respect or attention; to tip one's hat
    If you're lucky, she might give you the time of day.
  2. (idiomatic, in the negative) To not acknowledge someone; to snub someone; to disrespect someone; to ignore someone
    He won't give the time of day to someone like you or me.
    I tried to say "hi", but she wouldn't give me the time of day.
    • 2005, Carole Dillane Krajeski, 99% of the Time[1], →ISBN, page 270:
      "Daddy, please," Leanne laughed, "Give Linds a little credit. She wouldn't give the time of day to someone like Connor."
  3. (literally) (dated) To tell someone the time of day by looking at one's wristwatch, etc.