The Meaning of Hot Minute: What It Is and How To Use It

This article will give you all of the information you need on the phrase hot minute, including its definition, origin, usage, example sentences and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What is the definition of hot minute?

Hot minute is a bit of a confusing phrase, because it has two opposite meanings. The first definition, according to Lingomash, is a fast or quick amount of time. If someone says “I’ll be with you in a hot minute,” that means that they will be with you momentarily, or as fast as they can.

On the other hand, the phrase hot minute can also be used to mean a long amount of time, according to Urban Dictionary. If it has been a “hot minute” since one person has seen another, that means that it has been a long time.

The dual meanings of this phrase may have become conflated with the meaning of the phrase “hot second.” According to Merriam-Webster, a hot second is also used to mean a very brief period of time. It is unclear which meaning of hot minute came first, or if one of the two meanings was taken from the phrase hot second.

Overall, this phrase should be used carefully and clearly because of its dual meanings. It should be obvious what one means when they are using the phrase hot minute, so that one does not take away the wrong meaning. The phrase is very popular, and can be seen in numerous TV shows, social media sites, or online forums like Reddit.

What is the origin of the phrase hot minute?

According to Stack Exchange, the phrase hot minute began as the phrase “red-hot minute.” In these early times, the phrase had two different meanings aside from the literal one, all related to a short period of time. It could either mean a brief period of intense emotion, or a small window of opportunity.

The place the phrase “hot minute” is seen for the first time is in a magazine article by Douglas Jerrold entitled The History of St. Giles and St. James published in 1847. Here, Jerrold uses it in the first sense, to mean a brief spurt of anger.

In 1859, the second definition was used in The Tennessean, accompanied by the phrase “strike while the iron’s hot” to allude to a brief period of opportunity. 

Presently, many do use the phrase a hot minute to mean a long time. However, people believe the negation of the phrase may have stemmed from The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song “One Hot Minute,” in which the phrase was used to mean a long time. 

From there, people began to negate the phrase in magazines and newspapers, describing periods of time as “not a hot minute,” to mean a short amount of time. From here, these negations began branching off, and people began to use the phrase for both of its current meanings.

Overall, the phrase hot minute likely began to take on the meaning of “a long time” in the late 1990s, but its original meaning is “a short time,” derived from the phrase “red hot minute.”

How can hot minute be used in a sentence?

Hot minute can be used in many different ways given its dual meanings. In this first example, it is used to mean “a short time.” Jared’s father Matthew knocks on his closed bedroom door.

Matthew: Come downstairs when you can, dinner’s almost ready.

Jared: Give me just a hot minute dad, I’m almost done with my computer science homework!

Matthew: Alright, but you’re clearing the table afterward!

Here, Jared uses the phrase hot minute to mean a quick second or brief moment. In this next example, the phrase is used to mean “a long time.” Kelsie and Rebekah were best friends in high school, but haven’t seen each other in ten years. They meet up at their ten year reunion.

Kelsie: Rebekah! It’s been a hot minute!

Rebekah: It really has! You have to tell me everything you’ve been up to since high school

Kelsie: That will take a hot minute in itself!

Here, Kelsie uses the phrase hot minute to mean “a long time.” It has been a very long time since she has seen Rebekah, and asserts that it will also take a long time to catch her up on everything Kelsie has done since high school. Finally, below is an example of a situation in which the phrase hot minute may be confusing. Jill enters a busy restaurant with her husband and approaches the host stand.

Host: It’s just going to be a hot minute until I can seat you.

Jill: How long is that, like an hour? Should we go somewhere else?

Host: Oh, no, we just had a table for two open up!

Jill: I thought you said it was going to be a hot minute?

Host: …I did? 

Here, the host and Jill are both confused because they are interpreting the phrase hot minute in opposite ways. The host thinks he is using it to mean a short period, while Jill interprets it as a long period of time.

What are synonyms of the phrase hot minute?

Strangely, synonyms of the phrase hot minute will also be antonyms, and vice versa, due to the two meanings of the phrase. Below are synonyms for hot minute when referring to a short time, according to Word Hippo.

  • Instant
  • Flash
  • Short period
  • Spurt
  • Minute
  • Moment
  • Second
  • Twinkling
  • Jiffy/Jiff
  • New York minute
  • Two shakes
  • Blink of an eye
  • Short while
  • Half a lick
  • Microsecond/Millisecond
  • Wink

Below are more synonyms for hot minute when it is used to mean a long while:

  • Eon
  • Age
  • Eternity
  • Forever
  • Ages
  • Forever and a day
  • Forever and ever
  • Dog’s age
  • Donkey’s years
  • Decades
  • Spell
  • Span

Overall, the phrase hot minute can be a bit confusing because of its opposite meanings. The phrase can either be used to mean a very short amount of time, or a very long amount of time. One should exercise caution when using the phrase hot minute to ensure the listener is clear on which of the two definitions is intended.