To waste time in Italian

How do you translate to waste time in Italian?

In this lesson, we’ll take a look at this very expression, also known as collocation, and even talk about what types of different “times” there are in Italian and what words you can use to describe them.

Let’s get started! Iniziamo!

To waste time in Italian

First of all, let’s translate to waste time in Italian.

Perdere tempo
To waste time

You will also see this expression as sprecare tempo.

Sprecare tempo
To waste time

man sleeping in a bad position

To waste time in Italian – Let’s break it down!

Perdere tempo literally means to lose time, while sprecare tempo literally means to waste time.

In English, these expressions are not equivalent: you would use to lose time to mean that something is holding you up and preventing you from doing something urgent. On the other hand, you waste time intentionally.

In Italian, there’s no such distinction: perdere tempo is used in both contexts. Sprecare tempo, however, is more specific and is only used when you are purposefully wasting valuable time.

Tempo is simply the Italian translation for time.

Perdere / Sprecare
To lose / waste


Stiamo perdendo tempo. Dovremmo iniziare a lavorare subito!
We’re wasting time. We should start working immediately!

panicked woman

Perdere is a verb of the second -ere group. Its indicativo presente conjugation is as follows.

lui, leiperde

Ho perso le chiavi di casa e ora non riesco a entrare.
I lost my house keys and now I can’t get in.

The conjugation table for sprecare is as follows.

lui, leispreca

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Ogni anno si sprecano tonnellate di cibo.
Every year tons of food are wasted.

You’ll find perdere in a variety of other expressions in Italian. Some of them are:

Perdere la coincidenza (per)
To miss the connection (for)

Perdere la pazienza
To lose your patience

Perdere una partita
To lose a game

two people playing a table game

For example, you could say…

Luca ha perso la coincidenza del treno per Roma. Arriverà con qualche ora di ritardo.
Luca has missed the train to Rome. He will arrive a few hours late.

Federico perde la pazienza molto facilmente.
Federico loses his patience very easily.

I giocatori non erano in forma e persero la partita contro la squadra rivale.
The players were not fit and lost the game against the rival team.

You’ll notice that perdere is also translated as “to miss” in these expressions.

angry woman


We said that the most common translation for to waste time in Italian is perdere tempo. Tempo is a masculine noun. It is often followed by a descriptive adjective.

Il tempo
(The) time

Il tempo non va sprecato!
Time must not be wasted!

Time as in “to tell the time” is actually translated as dire l’ora, which literally means “to tell the hour”.

Dire l’ora
To tell the time

Mi sai dire l’ora?
Can you tell me the time?

You can also use the expressions dire che ora è and dire che ore sono.

Sai che ora è?
Do you know what time it is?

Sai che ore sono?
Do you know what time it is?

golden clock

Other expressions using tempo are…

Risparmiare tempo
To save time

➡️ Read some real-life examples of the expression to save time in Italian!

Ingannare/ammazzare il tempo
To pass the time, to kill the time

Tempo libero
Spare time

For example, you could say…

L’impastatrice ti fa risparmiare un sacco di tempo in cucina.
A dough mixer saves you a lot of time in the kitchen.

Non so mai come ingannare il tempo mentre aspetto l’autobus alla fermata.
I never know how to kill time while waiting for the bus at the bus stop.

Mattia non ha molto tempo libero. Lavora 10 ore al giorno.
Mattia doesn’t have much free time. He works 10 hours a day.

You’ll also find il viaggio nel tempo, time travel. From this we get the verb viaggiare nel tempo, to travel in time.

Viaggio nel tempo
Time travel

to waste time in italian - viaggio nel tempo - man travelling through time

To waste time in Italian – Examples

Smettila di perdere tempo su Internet.
Stop wasting time on the Internet.

Jane non perse tempo a rispondere.
Jane didn’t waste time answering.

Non voglio perdere tempo a litigare.
I don’t want to waste time arguing.

Non perdiamo tempo a parlare di cose che non possiamo cambiare.
Let’s not waste time talking about things we cannot change.

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