With the hustle and bustle of modern life, we may go days, months, or even years without seeing our friends or beloved family members.
This is unfortunate, but it can’t always be helped. At the end of the day, work and other obligations must come before most social relationships.
Similarly, it’s also very common to wait for other things. It may take years for that new season of your favorite show to finally come out, or you may do something and realize that you haven’t had that same experience in over a decade.
In such cases, it’s natural to say that “it’s been a minute.”
What Does “It’s Been a Minute” Mean?
To be clear, “it’s been a minute” is short for “it has been a minute.” This phrase is used when an individual or multiple people have not done something for a very long time. Considering how short a minute is, this term is a deliberate understatement. When two friends meet after spending several weeks or months apart, someone may say that “it’s been a minute.” You can also use the phrase to describe experiences and other things that you have not done for a long time.
When and How to Use the Phrase “It’s Been a Minute”
This term is pretty informal, so you wouldn’t want to use it with your boss.
Older people probably won’t understand this term, so it’s better to express the sentiment in a more standard way.
You should only use this phrase when you haven’t seen someone or experienced something familiar in a long time.
In the example below, Wilhelm and Nikolas are reuniting after spending several years apart.
Wilhelm: Nikolas, is that really you? I almost didn’t recognize you with the beard. It’s so good to see you.
Nikolas: Likewise. It’s been a minute, so I almost didn’t recognize you either!
Nikolas and Wilhelm had spent so much time apart that when they finally reunited, they almost didn’t recognize each other, so it was appropriate for Nikolas to say “it’s been a minute.” In the next example, Tamuna and Caleb are eating at a restaurant.
Tamuna: So, Caleb, what did you order for dessert?
Caleb: Well, I saw apple crisp on the menu and realized that it really has been a minute since I’ve tasted some good apple crisp, so I went with that.
Tamuna: Darn! I should have ordered that. Promise that you’ll give me a bite!
As illustrated in this example, this phrase doesn’t always have to be used when two people reunite; it can also be used when somebody does something that they hadn’t done in a long time.
In this case, Caleb uses the phrase to describe that he hadn’t eaten apple crisp in a while. Also, notice how Caleb modified the phrase.
This is natural, and you may hear other variations and modifications of this phrase and many other phrases in the English language.
Origin of the Phrase “It’s Been a Minute”
This phrase may have its origins in the term “hot minute.” A “hot minute” basically means a long time, and that phrase was first recorded in the mid-1800s.
For several centuries, it’s been normal to say that “it’s been a long time” when reuniting with someone, so these two terms may have fused at some point within the last 150 years.
However, “it’s been a minute” has not been commonly used until the last decade, so this specific term is probably a more recent development.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.