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real time

[ree-uh l, reel] /ˈri əl, ril/
Computers. the actual time elapsed in the performance of a computation by a computer, the result of the computation being required for the continuation of a physical process.
the actual time during which a process takes place or an event occurs.
in real time, Informal. at once; instantaneously.
Origin of real time


[ree-uh l-tahym, reel-] /ˈri əlˈtaɪm, ˈril-/
adjective, Computers.
of or relating to applications in which the computer must respond as rapidly as required by the user or necessitated by the process being controlled. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for real time
  • real time intelligence relied on instantaneous information, something a lot of space craft cannot do.
  • The information is updated in real time by the users and is accessible to all those on the network at all times.
  • The real time sink isn't preparing the information in a new format.
  • The video footage, along with audio, can be played in real time on the tablet and are also saved for later reference.
  • Moisture readings are sent in real time to a processing centre via a satellite link.
  • Satellite images allow meteorologists to track weather patterns in real time and powerful computers model its probable course.
  • For instance, scientists could watch in real time how an animal's organs develop.
  • People concerned about wildlife and wild places can view problems in real time and track the impact of their own contributions.
  • If played in real time, these segments would be about one-tenth of a second long.
  • They are cataloging flora and fauna and taking pictures and, in real time, they are sending them up the wireless network.
British Dictionary definitions for real time


denoting or relating to a data-processing system in which a computer receives constantly changing data, such as information relating to air-traffic control, travel booking systems, etc, and processes it sufficiently rapidly to be able to control the source of the data
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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real time in Culture

real-time definition

A term used to describe computer systems that update information at the same rate as they receive data.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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