an instrument for measuring and recording time, especially by mechanical means, usually with hands or changing numbers to indicate the hour and minute: not designed to be worn or carried about.
a meter or other device, as a speedometer or taximeter, for measuring and recording speed, distance covered, or other quantitative functioning.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Horologium.
Computers. the circuit in a digital computer that provides a common reference train of electronic pulses for all other circuits.
to time, test, or determine by means of a clock or watch:
The racehorse was clocked at two minutes thirty seconds.
Slang. to strike sharply or heavily:
Somebody clocked him on the face.
clock in, to begin work, especially by punching a time clock:
She clocked in at 9 on the dot.
clock out, to end work, especially by punching a time clock:
He clocked out early yesterday.
around the clock,

during all 24 hours; ceaselessly.
without stopping for rest; tirelessly:
working around the clock to stem the epidemic.

clean (someone’s) clock, to defeat; vanquish.
kill the clock, Sports. to use up as much game time as possible when one is winning, as to protect a lead in basketball, ice hockey, or football.
Also, run out the clock.
stop the clock, to postpone an official or legal deadline by ceasing to count the hours that elapse, as when a new union contract must be agreed upon before an old contract runs out.
a short embroidered or woven ornament on each side or on the outer side of a sock or stocking, extending from the ankle upward.
to embroider with such an ornament.
Contemporary Examples

Mortgage brokers, lawyers, and appraisers all had to cancel their vacations and work around the clock.
December’s Economic Signs Looked Positive Amid Uncertainty Daniel Gross January 2, 2013

In Emilia Romagna, important churches and clock towers damaged in a series of springtime earthquakes will never be repaired.
Italy’s Culture Falling to Ruins Amid Austerity Cuts Barbie Latza Nadeau September 18, 2012

Now, the school is surrounded by 12 guards, round the clock, who are under orders to shoot anyone who tries to hurt a student.
Venturing Into Afghanistan Liz Goodwin December 10, 2009

If anyone is working round the clock to besmirch the reputation of Pit Bulls it is Pit Bulls themselves.
Get Rid of Pit Bulls Charles Leerhsen March 11, 2010

It turns out that only when Muhammad Ali is in a boxing ring can he, or does he choose to, turn back the clock.
The Stacks: The True Greatness of Muhammad Ali Peter Richmond February 22, 2014

Historical Examples

His eye is on the clock; he will rise in time, and he will rise in comfort!
The Varmint Owen Johnson

With considerable of a to-do, Mrs. Norris announced the gift of a grandfather’s clock.
Tutors’ Lane Wilmarth Lewis

What say you to ten of the clock this night for our setting out?
With the King at Oxford Alfred J. Church

Servants sometimes say “she” of a clock, but every one gives a gender to vessels.
The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

A clock may stand still, but a nation which does so is retrograde.
The Philosophy of Natural Theology William Jackson

a timepiece, usually free-standing, hanging, or built into a tower, having mechanically or electrically driven pointers that move constantly over a dial showing the numbers of the hours Compare digital clock, watch (sense 7)
any clocklike device for recording or measuring, such as a taximeter or pressure gauge
the downy head of a dandelion that has gone to seed
an electrical circuit that generates pulses at a predetermined rate
(computing) an electronic pulse generator that transmits streams of regular pulses to which various parts of the computer and its operations are synchronized
short for time clock
around the clock, round the clock, all day and all night
the clock, an informal word for speedometer, mileometer
(Brit) a slang word for face
against the clock

under pressure, as to meet a deadline
(in certain sports, such as show jumping) timed by a stop clock: the last round will be against the clock

put the clock back, to regress
(transitive) (Brit & Austral, NZ, slang) to strike, esp on the face or head
(transitive) (Brit, slang) to see or notice
(transitive) to record time as with a stopwatch, esp in the calculation of speed
(electronics) to feed a clock pulse to (a digital device) in order to cause it to switch to a new state
an ornamental design either woven in or embroidered on the side of a stocking

late 14c., clokke, originally “clock with bells,” probably from Middle Dutch clocke (Dutch klok) “a clock,” from Old North French cloque (Old French cloke, Modern French cloche), from Medieval Latin (7c.) clocca “bell,” probably from Celtic (cf. Old Irish clocc, Welsh cloch, Manx clagg “a bell”) and spread by Irish missionaries (unless the Celtic words are from Latin); ultimately of imitative origin.

Replaced Old English dægmæl, from dæg “day” + mæl “measure, mark” (see meal (n.1)). The Latin word was horologium; the Greeks used a water-clock (klepsydra, literally “water thief”). Image of put (or set) the clock back “return to an earlier state or system” is from 1862. Round-the-clock (adj.) is from 1943, originally in reference to bomber air raids.

“ornament pattern on a stocking,” 1520s, probably identical with clock (n.1) in its older sense and meaning “bell-shaped ornament.”

“to time by the clock,” 1883, from clock (n.1). The slang sense of “hit, sock” is 1941, originally Australian, probably from earlier slang clock (n.) “face” (1923). Related: Clocked; clocking.


To hit; sock: who clocked me when I wasn’t looking/ She clocked him with the portable telephone (1920s+ Australian)
To time, esp with a stopwatch: They clocked her at 6:05:03.65 (1880s+)
To achieve a specified time: I clocked a two-minute lap yesterday (1892+)
To get; amass: Malcolm Forbes is clockin’ megadollars (1980s+ Teenagers)
To watch; keep one’s eye on: He is always clockin’ girls (1980s+ Teenagers)
To waste one’s time; detain one: Why’re you clockin’ me? I got people to see (1980s+ Teenagers)

Related Terms

clean someone’s clock

[first sense probably related to clock, ”face”]
A circuit in a processor that generates a regular sequence of electronic pulses used to synchronise operations of the processor’s components. The time between pulses is the cycle time and the number of pulses per second is the clock rate (or frequency).
The execution times of instructions on a computer are usually measured by a number of clock cycles rather than seconds. Clock rates for various models of the computer may increase as technology improves, and it is usually the relative times one is interested in when discussing the instruction set.

clock in
clock is ticking, the
clock up

also see:

against the clock
beat the clock
clean someone’s clock
like clock-work
set back (the clock)
stop someone’s clock
stop the clock


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