Definition of hour in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈaʊə/


1A period of time equal to a twenty-fourth part of a day and night and divided into 60 minutes: an extra hour of daylight in the winter evenings rates of pay were low, starting at £3.20 an hour [as modifier, usually with preceding numeral]: a two-hour operation
More example sentences
  • The throw in time is 7.30 and if the sides are again deadlocked at the end of the hour thirty minutes extra time will be played.
  • It may be minutes, hours days or even years that you are helping yet the gratitude will be there.
  • Seconds turned to minutes, and minutes turned into hours with equal grace and ease.
1.1A more indefinite period of time: during the early hours of the morning
More example sentences
  • He tripped this morning and he fell in the early morning hours while he was getting dressed.
  • Embers began burning in the east, casting light upon the land in the early winter hours.
  • Two days later a relative left in the very early hours of the morning, to avoid the heat, with the coffin in the back of a buckie.
1.2The distance travelled in one hour: Ocean City is less than an hour away
More example sentences
  • We travelled one hour up the Pearl River by high-speed jet boats to the port of Zhongshan.
  • They'd traveled about an hour away from Kol when Beau materialized out of the tree.
  • They traveled a few hours down the road and found the horses that Arnon was talking about.
2A time of day specified as an exact number of hours from midnight or midday: the clock in the sitting room struck the hour
More example sentences
  • Come to me later in the evening in the seventh hour after midday, and I will give the prescription to you.
  • Ask yourself, why did India awake to light and freedom at the stroke of the midnight hour…
  • I left Dublin after the midnight hour and rolled west along the road, all too well aware that part of my link with the old city had come to an end.
2.1 (hours) [with preceding numeral] A time so specified on the twenty-four-hour clock: the first bomb fell at 0051 hours
More example sentences
  • Visa applications can be submitted from Monday to Friday from 08:00 hours to 12:00 hours and from 13:00 to 16:00 hours.
  • The monthly charge covers scheduled servicing carried out between 08:00 to 18:00 hours Monday to Friday.
2.2The time as formerly reckoned from sunrise: it was about the ninth hour
More example sentences
  • Birds arrived between the end of the third hour after sunset and sunrise.
  • And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
  • Unfortunately towards the end of the race during the ninth hour, we had to make a pit stop because we have a technical problem with the engine starter.
3A fixed period of time for an activity, such as work, use of a building, etc. the dinner hour licensing hours opening hours
More example sentences
  • The restrictions on drinking establishments and licensing hours date from this period.
  • He is more impressed with the proposal to do away with fixed pub hours, planned for both Scotland and England.
  • Both the boys followed them, saying it was too dangerous to walk around the school building after school hours.
3.1A particular point in time: I wondered if my last hour had come you can’t turn him away at this hour
More example sentences
  • The baby chooses the hour and minute of birth, the parents the year and month, and the place.
  • The night went on without a hitch, but an hour had past, twelve midnight, the bewitching hour.
  • Then, at the midnight hour of the request to extradite him, only THEN did they offer to hand him over to the Pakistan courts.
4 (hours) (In the Western (Latin) Church) a short service of psalms and prayers to be said at a particular time of day, especially in religious communities: an organized life of prayer including the canonical hours
More example sentences
  • The Liturgy of the Hours is centered on chanting or recitation of the Psalms, using fixed melodic formulas known as psalm tones.
  • The Hours correspond to the Old Testament services beginning each of the four "watches" of the day.
5 Astronomy 15° of longitude or right ascension (one twenty-fourth part of a circle).
Example sentences
  • Any object on the same hour circle will have the same right ascension, just as any place on earth on the same meridian of longitude has the same longitude.
  • If the right ascension of objects transiting the meridian is 12 hours, then an object rising at the same time due east has a right ascension of 18 hours and an object setting due west has a right ascension of 6 hours.



all hours

Most of the time, especially outside the time considered usual: teenagers expect to be allowed to stay out to all hours
More example sentences
  • So, naturally they may play football or volleyball outside your room at all hours of the day and night.
  • She had a special key to the Sheen Gate, so she had access to White Lodge at all hours.
  • I wrote and arranged music, and produced hit records at all hours of the night and weekends.

keep late (or regular) hours

Get up and go to bed late (or at the same time) every day: she’d been under the impression that natives of Spanish-speaking countries kept late hours
More example sentences
  • Dependent on the passing trade, Istanbul is open seven days a week and keeps late hours.
  • Mind you, I've not yet seen him - he seems to keep late hours, but has apparently been preparing for a conference in Cyprus that he is now away upon.
  • It appears that my unidentified contact keeps late hours.

on the hour

At the same time every hour, or at the beginning of each hour: news bulletins all day on the hour
More example sentences
  • I rang every hour, on the hour, until three in the morning, for several nights.
  • Same goes if you're doing it every hour on the hour.
  • It felt like a gradual poem coming across the TV screen in the same way a news story keeps adding one tiny little detail every hour on the hour.

out of hours

British Available or taking place during the period of the day in which business is not normally conducted: our out of hours GP service
More example sentences
  • The Out of Hours team consists of six social workers and a team manager.
  • The finder of Bella should have notified the Dog Warden Service as soon as she was found and we and the Out of Hours contractor would have arranged reunification ASAP!
  • The department provides an Out of Hours noise patrol on 4 nights of the week.

within the hour

After less than an hour: his response came within the hour
More example sentences
  • Your order is processed within the hour when ordering during normal business hours.
  • If the recovery time is not spontaneous within the hour, then recovery times can vary from weeks to several months, and permanent damage may have occurred.
  • They would have been back on the streets within the hour.


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French ure, via Latin from Greek hōra 'season, hour'.

  • Hours came into English from French, and goes back to Greek hōra ‘season, hour’. year is a distant relation. The Old English equivalent was tide. The eleventh hour, meaning ‘the latest possible moment’, comes from the parable of the labourers in the Gospel of Matthew, in which someone pays people he hired at the beginning of the day the same daily rate as those he hired at the last or eleventh hour. The phrase their finest hour was part of Winston Churchill's speech in the House of Commons on 18 June 1940, before the Battle of Britain began: ‘Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

Words that rhyme with hour

bower, cower, devour, dower, embower, empower, endower, flour, flower, gaur, Glendower, glower, lour, lower, our, plougher (US plower), power, scour, shower, sour, Stour, sweet-and-sour, tower

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: hour

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