Skip to main content
Select Source:

standard time

standard time,civil time used within a given time zone. The earth is divided into 24 time zones, each of which is about 15° of longitude wide and corresponds to one hour of time. Within a zone all civil clocks are set to the same local solar time. Adjacent zones typically differ by a whole hour, although there are instances, such as in Newfoundland and South Australia, of half-hour zones. Standard time is based on universal time. Standard time was largely the creation of the Canadian railway engineer Sir Sandford Fleming (1827–1915). Its establishment in the United States was mainly due to the efforts of the educator Charles Dowd and William Allen, secretary of the American Railroad Association. Standard time officially came into existence after a 19-nation White House meeting in 1884, with the prime meridian established at Greenwich, England. In the United States, time zones are regulated by the Dept. of Transportation.

See also daylight saving time.

See C. Blaise, Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time (2001).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"standard time." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"standard time." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/standard-time

"standard time." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/standard-time

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Standard Time

STANDARD TIME


Standard time was introduced in 1884; it was the outcome of an international conference held in Washington, DC, to consider a worldwide system of standard time. The international agreement divided the world into twenty-four different "standard" time zones; within each time zone, all clocks were to be set to the same time. The device of standardized time zones was necessitated by the expansion of industry: businesses, particularly those in the transportation industry, could not coordinate schedules when each community used its own solar time (the local time as determined by the position of the sun). Railroad schedules had been extremely complicated before the establishment of standard time zones, which the railroads readily adopted.

Each time zone spans 15 degrees of longitude, beginning at zero longitude (called the "prime meridian"), which passes through the observatory at Greenwich (a borough of London), England. Time zones are described by their distance east or west of Greenwich. The model also dictates that each time zone is one hour apart from the next. However, the borders of the time zones have been adjusted throughout the world to accommodate national, state, and provincial boundaries, further facilitating commercial activities. The contiguous United States has four time zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. Waters off the Eastern seaboard are in the Atlantic time zone; Alaska, Hawaii, Samoa, Wake Island, and Guam each have their own time zones. Congress gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) authority to establish limits for U.S. time zones in 1918. This authority was transferred to the Department of Transportation in 1967. In navigation, ship operators typically use the local time (solar time) at Greenwich, which is called Greenwich mean time (GMT) or universal time (UT).

Standard time, while clearly borne out of necessity of the Industrial Revolution, has become only more critical in the decades since its adoption; the global business community relies on standard time to coordinate its activities.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Standard Time." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Standard Time." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/standard-time

"Standard Time." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Retrieved September 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/standard-time

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

standard time

standard time a uniform time for places in approximately the same longitude, established in a country or region by law or custom, and given a particular name, as Eastern Standard Time, Greenwich Mean Time.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"standard time." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"standard time." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/standard-time

"standard time." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved September 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/standard-time

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

standard time

stand·ard time • n. a uniform time for places in approximately the same longitude, established in a country or region by law or custom.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"standard time." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"standard time." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/standard-time-0

"standard time." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved September 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/standard-time-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.