Imagine you are deep inside a very sophisticated math question and just when you are finding the solution your friend comes to you and brings up a very irrelevant matter! You want to show your disapproval and your displeasure. Does the self-made sentence bellow work here? If not, I was wondering if you could let me know an alternative for that:

Tom: - What the hell you're doin' Andy?

Andy: - What's wrong man?

Tom: - Nothing! You just brought up this matter very untimely.

I googled the word "untimely", but it seems there is something wrong with it while in my dictionary it is the best choice for such a situation. (This is a Farsi-English Dictionary.)

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    Tom's usage isn't valid, because untimely is always an adjective today, not an adverb. The full OED does include the adverbial usage as late as 1883 (The moment for this controversy was very untimely chosen by the Pope), but I think that would be considered archaic phrasing today even though OED don't explicitly say this. To be beyond criticism, Tom should have said You brought up this matter in a very untimely way, or similar. Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 17:09
  • Thank you very much @FumbleFingers , but don't you think using "timely" and "untimely" in the way you mentioned would be a bit too formal? :)
    – A-friend
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 9:26
  • Define a bit too formal. You yourself just wrote in the way you mentioned, which I would say is relatively 'formal' compared to like you said or as you pointed out. I suppose in OP's context we'd have to say untimely is something of a 'facetious' usage, but it certainly wouldn't strike me as particularly unusual if we assume the conversants are both reasonably articulate native speakers. Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 14:29

2 Answers 2


"Untimely" is very close. Instead we usually say "it's not a good time for ..." or "it's not a good time to do ...".

"Hey Jim can we talk about the English test next week?"

"Sorry, it's not a good time for that right now. I have a set of Math problems due tomorrow."

This expression is fairly polite, depending on how you use it. A little stronger is "it's a bad time"

This is a bad time, I can't talk to you right now.

You can also say "I'm busy" or "I'm in the middle of something", as well as other idiomatic expressions:

"I can't talk about that, I need to focus on [this other thing]"

"I don't have any time to talk about that, I need to do [this other thing]"

"I don't want to talk about that since my mind is on [this other thing]"

If you want to use "untimely" then you can use it as an adjective, although (to me) it sounds a bit formal.

Please excuse the untimely interruption, but I need to talk to you about ...

They were in the middle of a passionate embrace when her mother made an untimely entrance.

  • Thank you very much, Andrew! What about "right" and "wrong" time; For instance: "You raised this matter just at the right time" OR "You brought up this matter just at the wrong time."? Do they sound natural to you?
    – A-friend
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 9:31
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    @A-friend interesting question. I generally use "bad" or "not good" time to suggest the moment is inconvenient. "Not right" or "wrong" time suggests the moment is inappropriate or not advantageous. For example, "Now is not a good time to ask the boss for a raise" suggests another time might be ok (e..g. now he's in a bad mood). "Now is not the right time to ask the boss for a raise" is similar but suggests you should strategize more and consider what might be a better time and method to ask.
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 14:40
  • Thank you again, Andrew. It was helpful. So I got the point and based on my taking I'd better use "bad / not good" in the scenario I painted. :)
    – A-friend
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 10:27

I see a couple of things wrong with this sentence.

First, 'untimely' is quite a formal statement, and as such, doesn't fit in with the rest of the conversation.

Second, if I were to sue the phrase 'untimely', I would use it to describe something that has already happened, i.e. something that occurred before it was expected to, rather than to describe an event that was still occurring. For example "XXXXX's drug use led to her untimely death."

In the context of your narrative above, if you want to be more formal, a possible substitution would be:

Tom: - "Nothing! But bringing this matter up right now is very ill-timed."

Less formal (and in my opinion, more befitting the tone of the rest of the narrative):

Tom: - "Nothing! Now isn't the time to bring this up!"

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    Given that This is an untimely interruption is perfectly natural, I can't see any grounds for supposing that the word has any special implications of "something that has already happened". It just so happens the cliched usage untimely death invariably refers to a past event. Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 17:16

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