Something untimely has occurred prematurely, and it's usually not good news. If you hear about someone's untimely death, it must mean it was an unexpected death.

When something is timely, it happens at the right time. When something is untimely, it means the opposite: it happened at an unfortunate or unexpected time. Usually, this means it happened much too early. The most common use of this term is probably in discussing someone’s untimely death, meaning they died young. Other disasters that happen to young people might be described as untimely as well.

Definitions of untimely

adj badly timed

“an untimely remark”
ill-timed, unseasonable, wrong
not opportune

adj uncommonly early or before the expected time

“alcohol brought him to an untimely end”
at or near the beginning of a period of time or course of events or before the usual or expected time

adv too soon; in a premature manner


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