Italian Idiom: Ammazzare il tempo (to kill time)

Today we are investigating an idiomatic expression with an exact English equivalent, just to make life a little easier on you! The idiom is ammazzare il tempo, which literally means to kill time.

ammazzare il tempo

Ammazzare is a verb in Italian that signifies to kill or murder. While uccidere is a common synonym, the former conveys a notion of a more brutal death devoid of any mercy.

Of course, in this context, ammazzare is being used figuratively, just like the English to kill. It describes the act of occupying oneself, usually while waiting for something else to happen.

drinking an espresso
Bevo un caff√® per ammazzare il tempo mentre aspetto il treno. = I’m drinking a coffee to kill time while waiting for the train.

If you don’t like the verb ammazzare, there is another way of wording this in Italian which is passare il tempo (to pass the time) or far passare il tempo (to make the time pass).

But if you want to say that you have time to kill? In this case, neither ammazzare nor passare will do. Instead, you need to use one of the following expressions avere tempo da vendere (literally “to have time to sell“), non avere niente da fare (to not have anything to do), or avere (del) tempo libero (to have free time).

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