time will tell


(only) time will tell


  • something that will not be proven until a later date
  • a question that will only be answered at a later date
  • the truth of something cannot be determined until a later date

Example Sentences

  1. I don’t think that he studied for his test, even though he says he did. Only time will tell.
  2. My father has promised to be at my hockey game tomorrow. Only time will tell whether he actually shows up.
  3. There is no way of knowing for sure whether the medication has worked. Only time will tell.
  4. We have heard that the hotel we will be staying in is beautiful. Only time will tell whether it was worth the expense.
  5. I have invested in a new company. It seems like a good investment, but only time will tell.
  6. Time will tell whether the new car we bought is as reliable as they say it is.
  7. Time will tell whether her new job is as bad as it seems it is.


This phrase seems to date back to the 1500s, but there is no written evidence of this. The meaning of the idiom is pretty self-explanatory. It is impossible to predict the future, therefor only time will tell whether something will happen or not.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman statesman and philosopher who died in 65AD. Some of his quotes still live on today. He is quoted to have said “Time discovers truth.”

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