Tempus fugit

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Tempus fugit is a Latin phrase that has entered the language unchanged, which makes it a loan phrase, also known as a borrowed phrase. We will translate the expression tempus fugit into English, examine the meaning of the term and the situations where one may use it, as well as some examples of that use in sentences.

Tempus fugit is most often translated as the phrase time flies, an idiom that is well known to English speakers. However, the word fugit is most properly translated in English as flees. In any case, the idea of time moving swiftly is conveyed. The idiom tempus fugit was often included on the faces of sundials, as well as the longer sentiment tempus fugit velut umbra, which means time flees like a shadow. The term is believed to have been paraphrased from a passage in Georgics by the Roma poet Virgil: “fugit inreparabile tempus”, which means “it escapes, irretrievable time”. Today, tempus fugit is used as an admonition that one is wasting time, or as a lamentation about getting older.


Over the next couple of decades, the design changed very little, but in 1927 the saying ‘Tempus Fugit’, the ubiquitous Latin phrase meaning ‘Time Flies’, was laid in flowers around the outer clock face. (The Scotsman)

Tempus fugit – Time flies, especially when one enjoys what one is doing. (The Wanganui Chronicle)

The piece, whose name was inspired by the Latin phrase tempus fugit meaning “time flies,” will be shown Friday and Saturday night in Kaufman Hall. (The Daily Bruin)

The celestial watch keeper is nothing but fear writ large, tapping his clock face, reminding you that tempus fugit — “time’s a wastin’!” (The Huffington Post)



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