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mark time (third-person singular simple present marks time, present participle marking time, simple past and past participle marked time)

  1. (idiomatic, marching) To march in place, while still in step with the beat.
    • 1821, Pierce Darrow, Winfield Scott, Scott's Militia Tactics: Comprising the Duty of Infantry, Light-infantry, and Riflemen; in Six Parts, page 161:
      When the colonel has given the signal for the music to beat time, he will give the caution for the movement as above; and the lieutenant colonel will immediately give the word to the right wing to mark time.
    • 1989, H. T. Willetts (translator), Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (author), August 1914, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, →ISBN, page 149:
      Next, they were ordered to converge on Bischofsburg. They had spent the morning marking time there.
  2. (by extension, figuratively) To stand still; to stop making progress temporarily; to wait.
    • 2005 September 8, Keith Spera, “Katrina Blues”, in LA Weekly[1]:
      “If I can put money in their pockets and play some New Orleans music, that’s what I can do.” But he’s only marking time until he can return to New Orleans.
    • 2009, Matthew Hall, The Coroner, Pan Macmillan (→ISBN)
      She had met plenty of lazy professionals in her time, people content to mark time until retirement, but none of them had still been athletic in their mid forties.