At the end of the day (Phrases with ‘day’, Part 2)

Listen to the author reading this blog post:

a young man putting chairs up on tables in a cafe as he prepares to leave work at the end of the day
The Photo Commune / DigitalVision / GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

In a recent post, I looked at phrases containing the word ‘day’, most of which relate in some way to time. Today, I’m considering frequent idioms that feature the word ‘day’. In many of these, the original meaning of ‘day’ isn’t quite as obvious.

Let’s start with a very positive idiom! If you say something has made your day, you mean it has made you very happy:

It was so lovely to bump into Sophie like that. It’s made my day!

Less positively, if you say it’s not someone’s day¸ you mean they are having a difficult or unpleasant day:

A: That’s the third thing that’s gone wrong today and it’s only eleven o’clock!

B: Poor you, it’s really not your day, is it?

If you (informal) call it a day, you stop doing something, often work or another task:

I think we’ve made pretty good progress. Let’s call it a day.

To consider something such as an action or decision in the cold light of day is to judge something calmly and reasonably after a time when you did not do this:

In my enthusiasm for the project, I’d offered them a large sum of money, but, in the cold light of day, began to regret it.

If you say someone will rue the day they did something, you are predicting that they will regret it:

He’ll rue the day he turned down our offer.

Before you state the most important fact in a situation, you can say at the end of the day:

I mean, I’ll consider her suggestion but, at the end of the day, it’s my decision.

If you pass the time of day with someone, you chat with them for a short time, usually in order to be polite:

I’d pass the time of day with him if I saw him at a party, but I never really knew him.

Meanwhile, something that hasn’t seen the light of day for a while has been in a drawer or cupboard, etc. for a long time instead of being used:

He has shirts in there that haven’t seen the light of day in decades.

Moving on to an exclamation, you say That’ll be the day! to mean that you think something is very unlikely:

A: Dan said he might help.

B: That’ll be the day! In five years, he hasn’t lifted a finger to help!

Someone who has an opportunity to explain their actions after they have been criticized may be said to have their day in court:

I felt as if I’d finally got my day in court and could clear my reputation.

Finally, a humorous way of saying that you don’t think someone is talented at something is Don’t give up the day job:

That was Evie’s dad singing, was it? Don’t give up the day job!

That concludes my two-part post on ‘day’ expressions. Perhaps you’d like to tell me about something that made your day recently?

20 thoughts on “At the end of the day (Phrases with ‘day’, Part 2)

  1. Dieter Walz

    Hi Kate,
    again another fine collection of phrases that will help to improve my English – I truely appreciate it.

    Thanks for it.
    Dieter Walz, Frankfurt

    1. Kate Woodford

      Actually, it’s Kate! (Liz and I both write these posts.) But thank you for the kind comment. I’m delighted you enjoyed reading the post.

  2. aleov

    Professor Woodford, thanks for your language tips, I had a teacher at the Instituto Anglo-Mexicano (México City) who always told us “watch out for those little details”

  3. Alain S. Gomes

    I reallly loved your post, specially the audio at the begining of the text. I hope the following posts will have it as well. I really apreciated it. It has made my day!

  4. AnaMLan

    Thank you Kate. Very useful phrases that certainly help us to sound more natural and skilled in the language.
    I wanted to add that in my country, they translate the expressions word by word (into Spanish) and are becoming quite a trend – when we do have expressions to use instead, in our own language. I’ve also seen it in dubbed films or series… Quite an issue!

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