run late: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘run late’ mean?

The idiom "run late" means to be behind schedule or to not arrive or finish something on time.

Idiom Explorer


The idiom "get late" is a related expression to "run late" that is frequently used in American English. It shares a similar meaning, indicating that someone is behind schedule or not punctual. Just like "run late," "get late" suggests a sense of urgency and emphasizes the delay beyond what is considered acceptable or on time.

In addition to "get late," another related idiom is "fall behind." This expression also conveys the idea of being behind schedule or not keeping up with a desired pace. When someone falls behind, they are unable to stay on track or meet a specific deadline. This idiom can apply to various situations, such as falling behind in work projects or falling behind in school assignments.

Similarly, "behind time" is another idiom related to "run late." It signifies a delay in meeting a predetermined time or deadline. When someone is behind time, they have not managed to complete a task or arrive at an intended destination at the expected hour. This idiom can be used in a variety of contexts, from being behind time for a meeting to being behind time in finishing a project.

She reached work punctually on time.

Overall, these idioms, including "get late," "fall behind," and "behind time," serve to reinforce the notion that being behind schedule or not punctual is a common occurrence in everyday life. They mirror the concept of "run late" and highlight the negative consequences that can arise from such delays.

Furthermore, the use of these related idioms demonstrates the versatility of expressing the same concept in different ways. It allows individuals to choose the idiom that best fits their intended message or context, while still conveying the underlying meaning of being behind schedule or not punctual.

It is important to note that these idioms, including "get late," "fall behind," and "behind time," are ingrained in American English and are widely understood by a well-informed audience. They are frequently used in both formal and informal conversations, reflecting their prominence in daily communication.

It is worth highlighting that the use of idioms in language, including these related expressions, adds depth and color to our communication. They serve as a way to convey meaning beyond the literal interpretation of words and create a sense of connection and shared understanding among speakers.

The idiom "run late" is closely related to other idioms such as "get late," "fall behind," and "behind time." These idioms all convey the idea of being behind schedule or not punctual. They provide different ways to express the same concept and are widely used in American English. Their widespread usage reflects their significance and enduring presence in the English language.

Example usage


  • Sorry, I'm going to run late for our meeting because the traffic is really heavy.
  • The train is scheduled to depart at 9 AM, but it seems to be running late.
  • I apologize for running late to the party, my car wouldn't start this morning.

An analysis of the idiom "run late":

The idiom "run late" is used to indicate that someone or something is behind schedule or not arriving at the expected time. It is often used to refer to situations where there are delays or unexpected circumstances causing a delay in someone's planned arrival or an event's start time. The phrase can be used in various contexts, such as transportation, meetings, appointments, or social gatherings. It suggests a delay in progress or timing, indicating that someone or something is not on time.

More "Punctuality" idioms