In Reply to: In a timely fashion posted by Smokey Stover on January 06, 2009 at 16:14:
: : Hello! Can someone please tell me the origin of the phrase "in a timely fashion"? A person from the U.S. has stated in the forum of another site (not language-related) that it's an "American phrase".
: "Timely" is a very old word. In its meaning as "occurring at an appropriate or fitting time," the Oxford English Dictionary has traced it back to the beginning of the 13th century. In its meaning as "early" or "not late," it is similarly old. "In a timely fashion" is a perfectly standard phrase, with no idiomatic nuances.
I wouldn't say it has NO idiomatic nuance - it serves as an "over-nice" way of saying 'and hurry up'. It seems to be part of the vocabulary of the "sensitized" bureaucracy, and from there to have slid sideways into everyday speech. The bureaucratic use would be something like, 'Get those reports to me in a timely fashion' - supposedly less hackle-raising than to say, '... and be quick about it!' But it means the same thing. (And hackles are raised nonetheless - folks don't like to be hurried, not even in a nice way.) - Bac.