At the Eleventh Hour” Idiom: History, Meaning, and Examples

Introduction: The English language is filled with idioms that are used to express a variety of ideas and concepts. One such idiom is “at the eleventh hour,” which is commonly used to describe a situation where something is done at the last possible moment. In this article, we will explore the history, meaning, and examples of this popular idiom.

History: The origins of the idiom “at the eleventh hour” can be traced back to the Bible, specifically to the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. In this parable, workers were hired at different times throughout the day, but all received the same wage at the end of the day. The workers who were hired at the eleventh hour received the same pay as those who had worked all day, leading to the phrase “at the eleventh hour” being used to describe a situation where something is done at the last minute.

Meaning: The idiom “at the eleventh hour” means to do something at the last possible moment, often implying that the situation is urgent and time is running out. It can also refer to a situation where a decision or action is made just before a deadline or when it is almost too late.


  1. Jane waited until the eleventh hour to finish her term paper, causing her to stay up all night.
  2. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy until they were able to secure funding at the eleventh hour.
  3. Tom always waits until the eleventh hour to file his taxes, causing him unnecessary stress and anxiety.
  4. The team was losing the game until they scored a goal at the eleventh hour, securing their victory.

Conclusion: The idiom “at the eleventh hour” is a useful expression that can be used to describe situations where something is done at the last possible moment. Understanding the history and meaning of this idiom can help you use it more effectively in your writing and conversations. Whether you are a native English speaker or a non-native speaker learning the language, incorporating idioms like “at the eleventh hour” into your vocabulary can help you express yourself more accurately and effectively.

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Dr. James Morrison
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