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I have heard the sentence "we have a time situation here" in many places. Although one could easily decipher it means we are short of time when asking someone to do something... But I couldn't find the term "time situation" in a dictionary or some usage of the word "time" as a verb or noun which could be used in this way. I am probably not looking correctly.

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  • It sounds "uneducated" to me, but even without a specific context, I'm sure it will always mean that the current situation is time-critical in some way. Most likely, there's a deadline date/time for something to happen, in a context where there's some degree of risk that the deadline might not be met. OR that whatever needs to be done must be done immediately / as soon as possible. Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 14:20
  • I heard that recently in a 2000 hollywood movie
    – nicku
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 17:51

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In general, "an X situation," where X is some noun, means "a situation, insofar as X is concerned." An example usage:

We’re going to be in a horrible budget situation for years.

This means: "we're going to be in a horrible situation, insofar as our budget is concerned, for years." Alternatively: "regarding our budget, we're going to be in a horrible situation for years."

So: "we have a time situation" means "we have a situation, insofar as time is concerned." In this case, "situation" means: "a critical, problematic, or striking set of circumstances."

So your sentence means:

We have a problematic set of circumstances here, insofar as time is concerned.

This essentially means:

The amount of time that we have is a problem for us.

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The term "time situation" wouldn't normally exist outside of a sentence such as this.

The sentence comes from the more general use of the term "situation" in phrases like "we have a situation here", and people have taken that sentence construction and applied it more specifically to time.

Even the sentence "we have a situation" isn't exactly "grammatically correct", it would probably be more correct to say something like "we have a difficult situation" or "a tricky situation" but as with many things in English people take shortcuts with language for humour, dramatic effect, or brevity.

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