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beat time

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Note: Some of this entry was previously at beat in time.

beat time v phr ?old-fash Cf beat in time v phr, mark time

To waste time, idle on the job.
1897 Tacoma Daily News (WA) 14 Aug 2/2, They could not go very far, and, returning for a fresh stock, they frequently had to wait another month or two. While thus beating time they heard of a good strike on the Gold Bottom creek, a tributary of the Klondike river. 1904 Boston Sun. Globe (MA) 7 Feb 4/1, Their greatest activity is in seeing that the patrolmen do not “beat time,” that is to say, loaf while on patrol. 1925 Blue Is. Sun–Std. (IL) 23 Apr 8/5, He made a personal inspection of the . . different departments. He found one who done nothing but draw his pay, a few who were just beating time, a great many good employes and two who gave the City Government all, and the best that was in them. c1926 in 1993 Farwell–Nicholas Smoky Mt. Voices 24 sAppalachians, Beat time: . . “to kill or waste time on a job.” “He can beat time the best I ever saw.” 1965–70 DARE (Qu. A9, . . Wasting time by not working on the job) Infs AR53, NC31, 41, SC46, VA28, 87, Beating time; (Qu. A11, When somebody takes too long . . “I wish he’d quit _____.”) Inf VA36, Beating time.
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