Word Confusion: Thyme versus Time

Posted June 22, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Because thyme and time sound alike, they’re heterographs, and that doesn’t mean that you can switch thyme with time, even though you can use thyme and time.

Consider how tasty thyme is with that roast chicken, and the time you took to rub it in. Yummy. The usage, however, is completely different, as thyme is a physical object you pick, chop, and move with your hands. Time, on the other hand, is more metaphysical. You can’t actually touch time. You can keep time with your hands. You can dry thyme on a rack.

And no, touching your watch or rewinding that cuckoo clock or adjusting the weights in the grandfather’s clock is not handling time, lol.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Thyme Time
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: time

A plot of common thyme

“Thymus Vulgaris, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanze” by Franz Eugen Köhler from a List of Koehler Images is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Common thyme is wonderful to cook with.

A grandfather clock in Bamburgh, UK

“1780 Grandfather Clock” by Thomas Quine is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

People have been interested in keeping time for centuries.

Part of Grammar:
Plural for the noun: thymes
Adjective; Noun;
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: times
Past tense or past participle: timed
Gerund or present participle: timing

A low-growing aromatic plant of the mint family

The small leaves are used as a culinary herb, particularly Thymus vulgaris

The plant yields a medicinal oil

Of, relating to, or showing the passage of time

[Of an explosive device] Containing a clock so that it will detonate at the desired moment

[Commerce] Payable at a stated period of time after presentment

Of or relating to purchases on the installment plan, or with payment postponed

The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole

  • The progress of time as affecting people and things
  • Time or an amount of time as reckoned by a conventional standard
  • [Time or Father Time] The personification of time, typically as an old man with a scythe and hourglass

A point of time as measured in hours and minutes past midnight or noon

  • A moment or definite portion of time allotted, used, or suitable for a purpose
  • [Often time for/to do something] The favorable or appropriate time to do something
    • the right moment
  • [A time] An indefinite period
  • [Also times] A more or less definite portion of time in history or characterized by particular events or circumstances
  • [Also times] The conditions of life during a particular period
  • [The Times] Used in names of newspapers
  • [One’s time] One’s lifetime
  • [One’s time] The successful, fortunate, or influential part of a person’s life or career
  • [One’s time] The appropriate or expected time for something, in particular childbirth or death
  • An apprenticeship
  • [Dated] A period of menstruation or pregnancy
  • The normal rate of pay for time spent working
  • The length of time taken to run a race or complete an event or journey
  • [In sports] A moment at which play is stopped temporarily within a game, or the act of calling for this
  • [Soccer] The end of the game

Time as allotted, available, or used

  • [Informal] A prison sentence

An instance of something happening or being done

  • An occasion
  • An event, occasion, or period experienced in a particular way

[Times; following a number] Expressing multiplication

The rhythmic pattern of a piece of music, as expressed by a time signature

  • The tempo at which a piece of music is played or marked to be played

Verb, intransitive:
To keep time

Sound or move in unison

Verb, transitive:
Plan, schedule, or arrange when something should happen or be done

  • Perform an action at a particular moment

Measure the time taken by a process or activity, or a person doing it

[Time something out; Computing] Cancel an operation automatically because a predefined interval of time has passed without a certain event happening

  • [Time out; of an operation] Be canceled after a predefined interval of time
Thyme is quite tasty with chicken and Italian dishes.

Thyme is a perennial herb and comes in quite a few varieties.

Jed wants to plant a time garden using a variety of thymes.

The creeping thymes will cover bricks, stones, the rise in a stair step, or low walls.
It’s a glorious fragrance when you step on thyme used in a pathway.

Thymes need full sun and a dry, gritty soil.

There are creeping thymes and bush thymes.

Thyme can be used as an antiseptic, for cough remedies, and/or as an aid to digestion.

Look out! It’s a time bomb.

We had to use time drafts to swing this deal.

On-time bill paying keeps your credit score in the green.

We’re using time payments to buy the computer.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could travel through space and time.

He was one of the greatest wits of all time.

Thankfully, things were getting better as time passed.

It’s eight o’clock Eastern Standard Time.

We tend to think of Father Time on New Year’s Eve.

The time is 10:30. Do you know where your children are?

Did you find out what the scheduled departure time is?

Should we set a time for the meeting?

It was time to go.

It’s time for bed.

Jet lag screws up your sense of time.

In Victorian times, women were “owned” by their husbands, fathers, or brothers.

The Catholic Church was extremely powerful at the time of Galileo.

The park is beautiful at this time of year.

Times have changed.

The New York Times is tremendously thick on Sundays.

I’ve known a lot of women in my time.

In my time, that was unheard of.

He seemed old before his time.

All of our foremen served their time on the loading dock.

I can’t go out, Josh. It’s my time of the month.

If called out on weekends, they are paid time-and-a-half.

His time for the mile was 3:49.31.

The umpire called time.

He scored five minutes from time.

We need more time.

It would be a waste of time.

He was doing time for fraud.

This is the first time I have gotten into debt.

The nurse came in four times a day.

We had a good time.

She was having a rough time of it.

Five goes into fifteen three times.

It burns calories four times faster than walking.

Those tunes are in waltz time.

“I need more time, Jim,” Scotty yelled.

Tempo, as used in musical pieces, translates as time and is the speed at which a piece of music is played or marked to be played.

Verb, intransitive:
Some networks will time out if they don’t see activity going to the printer.

The events were timed perfectly.

George. Paul. When I say in unison, that means you come in at the same time.

To disarm the bomb, the sergeant and major will have to turn their keys at the same time.

Verb, transitive:
The first track race is timed for 11:15.

The bomb had been timed to go off an hour later.

Williams timed his pass perfectly from about thirty yards.

We were timed and given certificates according to our speed.

I timed how long it took to empty that tanker.

I couldn’t get on. The damned computer timed out.

It’ll time out if it runs longer than ten minutes.

Adjective: thymy Adjective: untimed
Noun: timing
Verb, transitive: retime, retimed, retiming
Phrasal Verb
time out
History of the Word:
Middle English from the Old French thym, which is via Latin from the Greek thumon, from thuein meaning burn, sacrifice. Old English tīma, of Germanic origin; related to tide, which it superseded in temporal senses. The earliest of the current verb senses (dating from late Middle English) is ‘do (something) at a particular moment.’

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

I’ve Got Too Much Thyme on My Hands by Me.Me is courtesy of Thyme.