A Quick Reference to Time Expressions in Klingon

Telling Time

There are several ways of telling time in Klingon, though by far most complete and coherent system is the 24 hour “military time” described in Conversational Klingon (1992) and TalkNow: Klingon (2011):

“Klingons have adopted the way most civilized planets in the galaxy tell time; They have twenty-four hour days. ‘Zero hours’, means midnight; ‘twelve hundred hours’, means noon; ‘nineteen hundred hours’ means seven p.m., and so on. Klingons pride themself on punctuality, so it is important to be precise when referring to time. Though Klingons are sometimes inaccurate, they are never approximate.” [CK]

Enter a time here! ↴
cha’­maH wej­vatlh vagh­maH Hut rep 11:59pm

The formula is “hour [vatlh] minute rep” where hour is 0–23, and minute is 0–59. If hour is pagh (zero) you drop the vatlh. It looks like this in use:

pagh rep(00:00) zero hours, midnight [CK] or twelve p.m.
pagh cha’­maH vagh rep(00:25) 12:25 a.m.
pagh vagh­maH rep(00:50) 12:50 a.m.
wa’­vatlh rep(01:00) one a.m.
wa’­vatlh vagh rep(01:05) five past one a.m.
wa’­vatlh wa’­maH rep(01:10) ten past one a.m.
jav­vatlh rep(06:00) six hundred hours, six o’clock in the morning [CK]
wa’­maH vatlh rep(10:00) ten a.m.
wa’­maH wa’­vatlh rep(11:00) eleven a.m.
wa’­maH cha’­vatlh rep(12:00) twelve hundred hours, noon [CK] 1 or twelve a.m.
wa’­maH wej­vatlh rep(13:00) one p.m.
wa’­maH loS­vatlh wej­maH rep(14:30) fourteen hundred thirty hours or 2:30 p.m. [KML] 2
wa’­maH Hut­vatlh rep(19:00) nineteen hundred hours or seven p.m. [CK]
cha’­maH wej­vatlh rep(23:00) eleven p.m.
Source is TalkNow: Klingon, except where otherwise noted.
1 Here assuming that “cha’­maH wa’­vatlh rep” in Conversational Klingon just got cha’ and wa’ swapped around.
2 Alan Anderson <caanders@netusa1.net> on the tlhI­ngan-Hol Mailing List, .

In Hol­QeD 8:1 (March 1999) two different ways of telling the time were described. The first system, used for interplanetary communication, is exemplified in the following phrases (if the context is clear, the word te­ra’ Earth may be left out, as in the last example below):

te­ra’ rep wa’ Earth hour one or one o’clock
te­ra’ rep cha’­maH Earth hour 20 or 20 o’clock or eight o’clock p.m.
te­ra’ rep loS wej­maH Earth hour 4:30
rep cha’­maH 20 o’clock, eight o’clock p.m.

The second system is an informal way of answering the question ’ar­logh Qoy­lu’­pu’? What time is it? (lit. How many times has it been heard?) In direct response to this question one may even drop the verb, and answer only chorgh­logh eight o’clock (lit. eight times).

cha’­logh Qoy­lu’­pu’ It’s two o’clock
chorgh­logh Qoy­lu’­pu’ It’s eight o’clock

Asking for the Time

Asking what time it is is an idiomatic phrase in almost all languages, and Klingon is no exception in this. There are basically two ways of asking: The one usually used in military contexts is rep yI­per! Ascertain the hour! or Specify the hour!

Outside of those situations the expression ’ar­logh Qoy­lu’­pu’? is most commonly used (it literally means How many times has [someone] heard [it]? or How many times has it been heard?) [HQ 8:1]

rep yI­per! Ascertain the hour! Specify the hour! [HQ 8:1]
’ar­logh Qoy­lu’­pu’? What time is it? (lit. How many times has it been heard?) [HQ 8:1]
ma­mej­DI’ ’ar­logh Qoy­lu’­pu’? What time do we leave? (lit. When we leave, how many times will it have been heard?) [HQ 8:1]

Units of Time

In a sentence the time expression always come first, even before any adverbials. (Though there are some time words, e.g. qen recently, a short time ago, and tugh soon etc. which themselves are adverbials.)

We don’t know exactly how the Klingon units of time compare our Terran units, but keeping that in mind, here is a list of time units in Klingon (largest first):

DISyear (Klingon)[TKD]
jarmonth (Klingon)[TKD]
Hoghweek (Klingon)[TKD]
jajday (from dawn to dawn)[TKD]


The word for now is DaH, and the word for today is DaH­jaj. Today can also be expressed as jaj­vam this day – which actually means this day (that we are talking about) or this day (that is obvious from context) – so jaj­vam may actually refer to last Thursday, if that happens to be the topic of the conversation.

Since -vam above is a type 4 noun suffix (meaning this), it can be used on any time unit: DIS­vam this year, jar­vam this month, Hogh­vam this week etc. [TKD 3.3.4] We have no indication that DaH can be used in this way, however, so a word like *DaH­tup might be possible to understand, but it is most likely ungrammatical.

DaHnow (adv)[TKD]
DaH­jajtoday (n)[TKD]
DaH yI­DIl!Pay now! [TKD p.171]
DaH­jaj jI­’oj.Today I am thirsty. [CK 31:16]


There are a couple of adverbials related to past time, namely qen recently, a short time ago and ngugh then, at that time.

When one needs to be more specific there one can use ben, wen and Hu’ to count years, months, and days ago. There is also a word ret which is used to express that something happened some arbitrary time units ago. Here are the words:

benyears ago (n)[TKD]
wenmonths ago (n)[HQ 8:3]
Hu’days ago (n)[TKD]
rettime period ago (n)[HQ 8:3]
ngughthen, at that time (adv)[News 1999-11-05]
qenrecently, a short time ago (adv)[News 1999-02-02]

The words ben years ago, wen months ago, and Hu’ days ago can be immediately preceded by any number to form a time expression, while ret time period ago must also be preceded by the name of a time period (e.g. seconds, minutes or somesuch). Here are some examples (underlining the words in the table above):

cha’­vatlh bentwo hundred years ago, two centuries ago
Hut wennine months ago
wa’Hu’ jI­ghung.Yesterday I was hungry. [CK 30:59]
cha’ tup rettwo minutes ago
Dung­luQ tI­HIv. ngugh Qong­be’ chaH. Attack them at noon! They won’t be sleeping then. or Attack them at noon. They’re not sleeping then. [HQ 8:4; News 1999-11-05]

It might be added that ret time period ago is not when other words are available; ben years ago, wen months ago, and Hu’ days ago are always preferred.


The adverbial tugh means soon, but you can also specify how long ago it was that something happened using the following words:

nemyears from now (n)[TKD]
waQmonths from now (n)[HQ 8:3]
leSdays from now (n)[TKD]
pIqtime period from now (n)[HQ 8:3]
tughsoon (adv)[TKD]

And here are some examples (with time expressions underlined):

cha’­vatlh nemtwo hundred years from now, two centuries from now
Hut waQnine months from now
wa’leS jI­Doy’.Tomorrow I’ll be tired. [CK 31:34]
cha’ tup pIqtwo minutes from now
tugh!Hurry up! [TKD 5.4]

As with ret time period ago, pIq time period from now is not used when other words are available; nem years from now, waQ months from now, and leS days from now are always preferred.

Years and Months

We have an example of how to write the year in the form of a copyright notice on the SkyBox trading cards, in which Marc Okrand translated the year 1994 into te­ra’ DIS wa’-Hut-Hut-loS. This gives a pattern for writing years (which might be useful for large numbers, or series of numbers, as well – e.g. telephone numbers). Saying the digits one after the other is also conveniently shorter than using the numeric elements for multiples of ten (-maH, -vatlh etc.).

As for names of the months, we have no canon examples. Alan Anderson <caanders@netusa1.net> has suggested to the tlhingan-hol mailing list (in ) that one should apply the same pattern as for years above, thus saying te­ra’ jar vagh for the Terran month May.

Days of the Week

The Klingon week has six days. When Klingon have encountered cultures where the week is longer than their own, they use their traditional names until they run out and then number any remaining days, thus naming our Sunday jaj wa’ day one.

ghIn­jaj or loj­mIt­jajSaturday
jaj wa’Sunday

The longer form for Saturday, loj­mIt­jaj, is used for formal occasions, on other occasions the two forms are heard about equally often. [qep­Hom 12]

Time of Day

There exist a bunch of words for describing the time of day:

jaj­lo’dawn (n)[TKD]
pomorning (n)[TKD]
pemdaytime (n)[TKD]
pem­jepmidday (n)[TKD]
povafternoon (n)[TKD]
choStwilight (n)[TKD]
ramnight (n)[TKD]
ram­jepmidnight (n)[TKD]

“Although Klingons tell time the way most of the rest of the galaxy does, the Klingon day really goes from dawn to dawn, rather than from midnight to midnight. You might think this could cause some confusion, but it is really comparable to when a Terran says something like, ‘Thursday night, at three o’clock in the morning’.” [CK]


Well, there are still some time related stuff that haven’t been mentioned. Let’s lump it all together under this heading.

poHtime (v)[TKD]
poHperiod of time (n)[TKD]
nI’be long, lengthy (duration) (v)[TKD]
ngajbe short (in duration) (v)[KGT]

If you want to know more about how to tell time in Klingon, you may want to read the articles “Maltz Online” in Hol­QeD 8:1 (pp. 7–12) and “matlh jup­pu’ mu’­mey” in Hol­QeD 8:3 (pp. 2–4) written by Marc Okrand.