A friend who runs a teaching Institute had declared a holiday because of the rains and said

"We gave our students downtime yesterday because of the rains".

I think the usage of the word 'downtime' is incorrect here, but I don't know enough to correct her.

  • 4
    Also, you might consider 'rain' - mass noun - rather than 'rains' - plural. – peterG May 23 '16 at 12:50
  • 1
    Just to add to Ringo's answer below, "downtime" is idiomatic, and thus likely would sound "wrong" to someone unfamiliar with it. (But yes, your friend used it correctly.) – LindaJeanne May 23 '16 at 17:08
  • Certain parts of the world might experience monsoon rains. – Ringo May 24 '16 at 8:08

I think your friend used downtime correctly, which is a good thing if she runs a teaching institute! For machines or computers, downtime usually means a time during which the device is out of service or unavailable. For humans, downtime means "a time to relax." So giving the student downtime is correct usage. If you've only heard of downtime referring to machines, then it might have sounded incorrect to you.


I'd like to present an alternative to Ringo's answer.

Personally there is a difference between "downtime" and "down time". To quote what i wrote a while ago:

Here, i would use it as two words, since (to me at least) it has a slightly different semantic meaning. "Downtime" specifically refers to forced (bad) downtime, while "down time" is more relaxing.

"Downtime" as one word is what happens when your computer goes offline. "Down time" is when you have a break.

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