The clock is ticking

The clock is ticking is an idiom with an uncertain origin. We will examine the meaning of the idiom the clock is ticking, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

The clock is ticking is an idiom that means one is running out of time, that not much time is left to accomplish something, that a deadline is approaching. The phrase the clock is ticking is often used as a warning for someone to hurry up. The exact origin of the idiom the clock is ticking is unknown. The word tick to mean the sound a clock makes first came into use in the 1500s. The idiom the clock is ticking came into use sometime in the second half of the twentieth century. Interestingly, the phrase is as popular as ever, even though today, very few watches are analog watches that must be wound and make a ticking sound.

Examples

Organizers have said the convention’s official business will remain in Charlotte, but, since the president has demanded a packed arena with no social distancing and masks for his speech, the clock is ticking on the effort to find an alternative site. (The Charlotte Business Journal)

“The clock is ticking to get this done,” said one agent, “if they want to get games on the field by the beginning of July, this has to get done in the next week or so.” (The New York Daily News)

Deal or no deal: The clock is ticking for public employee unions to make a deal with Newsom on the 10 percent pay cut wants. (The Sacramento Bee)