In Due Time (In Due Course) – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Would you like to give someone a rough indication of the time that it might take to do something (or how long it will take to happen)? The term ‘in due time (in due course)’ could be the right sentence that applies to what is being said. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The term ‘in due time (in due course)’ is used when someone is indicating the estimated time that an action will take to happen (or that an action will take to be performed).

The expression can be used as an answer to the question of when something will happen. (E.g. “It will happen in due time.”)

The expression ‘in due time (in due course)’ can also be used as a question when asking someone when something will happen. (E.g. “Will it happen in due time?)

The term is deliberately nonspecific and does not actually indicate when something will happen, or how much actual time will pass before this mentioned action will take place.

Saying that something will happen “in due time” just means that something will happen when it is supposed to.

The term “due time” can also refer to a known time-frame to both subjects, or a deadline that has already been set out and is thus apparent or familiar already.

Example Usage

“I used to ask my parents when we were going to Disneyland, and they just used to say that it was going to happen in due course. Eventually they both died and we never got to see the place, so I just had three kids in my thirties and took them instead.”

“The editor wanted to know when I was going to deliver the manuscript. I told him it was going to be in due course, and then remembered that the deadline was in a week from now.”

“She asked when I was going to move out and I just said it was going to happen in due course.”

“If you’re going down to the woods today, then make sure you come back to the house in due course. You don’t want to run into Slenderman, and I guess he doesn’t come out much in the daylight.”


The origin of the terms ‘in due time’ and ‘in due course’ can be traced back to the invention of the mechanical (or analog) clock, which is credited to the ingenuity of several inventors in the fourteenth century.

Invention of the clock allowed people to keep track of time in easier, more reliable ways and several expressions that have to do with time and time-frames would appear during this period.

According to, one of the earliest documented uses of the phrase ‘in due time’ is dated back to 1387, more or less during the same period at which time-pieces would have become a more common sight.

The alternative expression ‘in due course’ might have originated with the popularity of racing or betting, which follows a set “course” until it is completed.

Phrases Similar to In Due Time

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Phrases Opposite to In Due Time

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What is the Correct Saying?

  • In due time
  • In due course

Ways People May Say In Due Time Incorrectly

There are several different ways in which the term ‘in due time’ can be used in the incorrect way, or used in the wrong context.

The term is sometimes written wrong as “in do time”, whereas “due” is the correct word for the expression.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase  In Due Time

The term ‘in due time (in due course)’ is meant to refer to a time that is already familiar to both subjects, such as a deadline that has been set or a time that has been discussed.

The phrase ‘in due time (in due course)’ can be used as a statement, or expressed as a question.

The term can also be expressed as the opposite, and is then changed to the expression “not in due time” with the implication that what is being waited for is late.

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