Two definitions straight from the Oxfordcitionaries

pastime (n) - An activity that someone does regularly for enjoyment rather than work; a hobby.

timepass (n) - The action or fact of passing the time, typically in an aimless or unproductive way.

The latter word is Indian English. Though the dictionary has not mentioned this word as a verb, here, it's common to say (though in an informal way) "Don't timepass, the work has to be finished in an hour."

What if I want to refer pastime as timepass and timepass as pastime. In other words, what if I want to ask a native speaker that how does s/he passes her time (timepass) and an Indian about how does s/he does pastime?

An example for the native speakers on timepass:

"Narendra, why are you throwing stones in the river?" ~ "Ah, I'm waiting for my friend. She hasn't come yet."

"And throwing stones?" ~ "Just simply... timepass."

Here, by no means timepass is done for enjoyment. Nor is it a hobby.

Note: To most of Indians, pastime is actually timepass. Because if you ask about pastime, you are very likely to get an answer about timepass.

  • 2
    The expression pass the time comes to mind for referring to timepass. I should note that it would also be much more common to say "What pastimes do you enjoy?" then "how does one do pastime?"
    – Pockets
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 15:38
  • What @Samuel said. Although kick one's heels is often used in contexts where it means be forced to wait, it does also get used in completely "voluntary" contexts to mean pass [the] time [of day] aimlessly. Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 16:17

2 Answers 2


Only users of Indian English can tell you how to express the 'Standard English' sense of pastime in Indian English; and to all appearances you are our authority on Indian English dialects.

I might remark, however, that pastime is literary or academic and is not often encountered in colloquial registers. "What do you do as a pastime?* is far more likely to be

What do you do for fun? or
What do you do for amusement? or
What do you do for a hobby? or
Do you have any hobbies?

For a Standard English equivalent of InE timepass in the contexts you present, I suggest waste time for the first and kill time or pass the time for the second.

"Don't waste time, the work has to be finished in an hour."

"And throwing stones?" ~ "Just killing time." or
"And throwing stones?" ~ "Just passing the time"

  • Thanks for having faith on me. :) I never use timepass but always prefer 'killing time' instead. But timepass is too common so I simply wanted to confirm. I'm not sure how many Indians are here on this board, I sought their inputs as well.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 4:00

The reason timepass exists in Indian English is not because Indians do not know the phrases "kill time" and "pass the time", but because it carries a meaning that is subtly different from other similar/equivalent expressions. For example,

"How did you like the movie?" "I will say it is a timepass movie."

Now, how else would you express the same meaning, and, I might add, so succinctly? You might say you could say "a time-waste movie" but that would mean you didn't enjoy at all whereas you do enjoy "a timepass movie". On the other hand, a pass-time movie or a kill-time movie sound just ludicrous, aren't they?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .