hour S1 W1 /aʊə $ aʊr/ BrE AmE noun [countable]
[ Date: 1100-1200 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: heure , from Latin hora , from Greek ]
1 . 60 MINUTES ( written abbreviation hr ) a unit for measuring time. There are 60 minutes in one hour, and 24 hours in one day:
The interview will last about two hours.
I study for an hour every night.
I’ll be back in three hours.
Three hours later he was back.
Her bag was stolen within hours of her arrival.
You weren’t interested in my story a half hour ago.
It takes about a quarter of an hour to walk into town.
After four hours of talks, an agreement was reached.
The hotel is only an hour’s drive from the airport.
a top speed of 120 miles an hour
This was freelance work, paid by the hour.
a five-hour delay
2 . BUSINESS/WORK ETC hours [plural] a fixed period of time in the day when a particular activity, business etc happens:
hours of business 9.00–5.00
Please call during office hours.
working hours/hours of work
the advantages of flexible working hours
visiting hours (=the time when you can visit someone in hospital)
after hours (=after the time when a business, especially a bar, is supposed to close)
3 . long/regular/late etc hours used to say how long someone works or does things every day, or when they work or do things:
the long hours worked by hospital doctors
Many hospital staff have to work unsocial hours (=work in the evenings so that they cannot spend time with family or friends) .
She knew that he kept late hours (=stayed up late) .
work all the hours God sends (=work all the time that you can)
4 . TIME OF DAY a particular period or point of time during the day or night
in the early/small hours (of the morning) (=between around midnight and two or three o'clock in the morning)
There was a knock on the door in the early hours of the morning.
Who can be calling at this late hour? (=used when you are surprised or annoyed by how late at night or early in the morning something is)
The park is open during daylight hours.
the hours of darkness/daylight literary :
Few people dared to venture out during the hours of darkness.
unearthly/ungodly hour (=used when you are complaining about how early or late something is)
We had to get up at some ungodly hour to catch a plane.
at all hours/at any hour (of the day or night) (=at any time)
If you have a problem, you know you can call at any hour of the day or night.
She’s up studying till all hours (=until unreasonably late at night) .
⇨ waking hours/life/day etc at ↑ waking
5 . LONG TIME [usually plural] informal a long time or a time that seems long:
We had to spend hours filling in forms.
for hours (on end)
It’ll keep the children amused for hours on end.
a really boring lecture that went on for hours and hours
She lay awake for hour after hour (=for many hours, continuously) .
6 . O'CLOCK the time of the day when a new hour starts, for example one o'clock, two o'clock etc
strike/chime the hour (=if a clock strikes the hour, it rings, to show that it is one o'clock, seven o'clock etc)
(every hour) on the hour (=every hour at six o'clock, seven o'clock etc)
There are flights to Boston every hour on the hour.
10/20 etc minutes before/after the hour American English (=used on national radio or television in order to give the time without saying which hour it is, because the broadcast may be coming from a different time zone)
It’s twelve minutes before the hour, and you’re listening to Morning Edition on NPR.
7 . 1300/1530/1805 etc hours used to give the time in official or military reports and orders:
The helicopters lifted off at 0600 hours.
8 . by the hour/from hour to hour if a situation is changing by the hour or from hour to hour, it is changing very quickly and very often:
This financial crisis is growing more serious by the hour.
9 . lunch/dinner hour the period in the middle of the day when people stop work for a meal:
I usually do the crossword in my lunch hour.
10 . IMPORTANT TIME [usually singular] an important moment or period in history or in your life
sb’s finest/greatest/darkest hour
This was our country’s finest hour.
sb’s hour of need/glory etc (=a time when someone needs help, is very successful etc)
11 . of the hour important at a particular time, especially the present time:
one of the burning questions of the hour
the hero/man of the hour (=someone who does something very brave, is very successful etc at a particular time)
⇨ the eleventh hour at ↑ eleventh 1 (2), ⇨ ↑ hourly , ↑ happy hour , ↑ rush hour , ↑ zero hour
• • •
▪ half an hour ( also a half hour ) (=thirty minutes)
I’ll meet you in half an hour.
▪ (a) quarter of an hour (=fifteen minutes)
Mum was gone for about a quarter of an hour.
▪ three quarters of an hour (=forty-five minutes)
The journey takes three quarters of an hour.
▪ miles/kilometres an hour (=used in speeds)
The speed limit is 65 miles an hour.
▪ £10/$7 etc an hour (=used to say how much someone is paid or how much you pay to use something)
The babysitter charges £5 an hour.
▪ an hour’s/six hours' etc work (=work that it took you an hour/six hours etc to do)
I did two hours’ work before breakfast.
▪ an hour’s walk/drive etc
It’s about an hour’s drive away.
▪ an hour/three hours etc later
An hour later she arrived home.
▪ an hour/three hours etc earlier/before
I had just seen him a few hours earlier.
▪ an hour/three hours etc ago
He left an hour ago.
▪ take an hour (=something needs an hour to do)
It took about three hours to paint the whole room.
▪ spend an hour
I spent an hour reading.
▪ last (for) an hour
The meeting lasted almost two hours.
▪ pay/charge by the hour (=pay or charge someone according to the number of hours it takes to do something)
You can pay by the hour to hire a boat.