Twice in the past few hours, I"ve viewed the idiom "don"t offer it the time of day". Now, I immediately knew and taken what the human being making use of the phrase expected, but then I realized that I didn"t recognize why that expression means what it means. I Googled the phrase "time of day idiom" because I was especially interested in the origin/etymology of the "time of day" part. I easily found the interpretation (which I currently knew), yet was stymied as to its origin (which is what I wanted). Thus, I ask: what is the origin/etymology of the idiom?




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edited Sep 2 "12 at 7:26
El'endia Starmale
asked Sep 1 "12 at 21:53
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I went to Galmethod, Ireland also, where there is a tower in the centre of the old town. The story I was told was that centuries back the town folk voted to pay for a town clock to be placed on the tower. They placed a face on three sides of the tower, however left one side without a clock because the family members who lived on that side of the town didn't add (or were unpopular, can't remember which). So they "wouldn't offer them the time of day"! I've constantly liked this story of the origin of the saying.
–user25934
Sep 11 "12 at 8:27


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An answer at answers.com quotes American Heritage Thesaurus of Idioms to the impact that to not offer someone the time of day means

Ignore someone, refusage to pay the slightest attention to someone, as in He"s tried to be friendly but she will not provide him the moment of day. This expression, initially videotaped in 1864, alludes to refmaking use of also to answer the question, "What time is it?"

By comparison, a response at tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com says:

the expression goes much ago beyond the time when human being wore watches... In Shakespeare"s day, the definition was fairly clear. "Good time of day" or "fair time of day" was a salutation just favor "good morning" or "excellent evening"...We no longer greet people by saying "good time of day," but we still usage the concept of providing such a greeting as a sign of favorable attention. In various other words, refutilizing to give someone the time of day is thinking so little of him that you would not say hello to him on the street." (credit to Scribal Terror)

If tywkiwdbi and also Scribal Terror are appropriate, then the expression is quite older than the AHD Thesaurus of Idioms sassist.

Edit: The BBC Learning jiyuushikan.org presentation “Not provide someone the time of day” says:

Long back, in Shakespeare"s time, the expression "excellent time of day" was a greeting frequently offered. These days we say "great morning" … So to say that you wouldn"t offer someone the time of day means you wouldn"t want to greet them or say hello. So the saying suggests you refuse to give someone your attention.

As an example of the expression used in Shakespeare"s time, think about King Henry VI, component II, Act III, scene I, as Queen Margaret speaks:

Can you not see? or will certainly ye not observe The strangeness of his alter"d countenance? ... We understand the moment since he was mild and affable, ... But satisfy him currently, and also, be it in the morn, When eincredibly one will offer the moment of day, He knits his brow and shows an angry eye, And passeth by through stiff unbowed knee,

Edit 2: Another instance from Shakespeare (as pointed out by ΜετάEd"s reference) is from King Rictough III, Act I, scene III, as soon as Buckingham claims “Good time of day unto your imperial grace!”. Note, Shakespeare is believed to have composed both plays about 1591; he might or can not have actually put 16th-century speech into the mouths of 15th-century human being. Henry VI was King of England also and/or France at various times between 1422 and 1471, and Ricdifficult III from 1483 until his death in 1485.