What is the origin of "o'clock"?
Originally this term was of the clock—for which o'clock is a contraction. It means by or according to the clock. The form o'clock first began to appear in the 18th Century. In Chaucer's time (14th Century) of the clock was used. Later the word the in the phrase was omitted and of was frequently slurred to sound like an a. Chaucer said ten of the clokke, while many writers of the 16th and 17th centuries said ten of clock or ten a clock. Originally the word clock signified bell. The modern usage is a survival of the period when all mechanical timepieces sounded the hours by bells.
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