The phrase "Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey stuff" was first used on TV by the 10th Doctor in the episode "Blink".

However, it then appears as if the Doctor had invented this phrase long before that in-universe, as it is used by the 5th Doctor in the mini-episode "Time Crash".

But in the 50th anniversary episode "Day of the Doctor", when the 11th Doctor says "timey wimey" the War Doctor appears as he has never heard this phrase.

Is there any explanation for this? In his own timeline, when did the Doctor invent or first hear this phrase?


This question is different from Is the Doctor Who episode 'Blink' the first use of the phrase "timey-wimey"? because I'm not asking about the first “use” of that phrase in a television serial or the first broadcast of the phrase, but when it was invented (or known) by the Doctor in his personal timeline. And if the 5th Doctor was aware of it, then why didn’t the War Doctor recognise it?

I thought this was clear in the question.

  • For reference: youtube.com/watch?v=szuP0oBZX4g#t=378
    – Michel
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 15:17
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    You're asking "when?" when talking about a time travelling guy who tends to lie a bit, confuse things a bit, and who often doesn't really know where he ends up at (or at least not where he expected to be)? ;) In other words: Are you looking for a chronologically first date according to the Doctor's timeline or earth timeline?
    – Mario
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 18:46
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    "Timey Wimey" is a new series invention, it wasn't in the old series. I always found it annoying because he usually said it when the writers had a difficult plot point they couldn't explain. Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 13:37
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    @user1129682 [ This question ] (scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/27979/…) already has an answer to the "which episode" question
    – Majd Ghada
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 1:32
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    I agree that this is NOT a duplicate of the other question.
    – Martha
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 3:57

1 Answer 1


The War Doctor never claims to have not heard the phrase. He's just disgusted that his two ostensibly older selves are still using it, since it's clearly a child's phrase. The implication has always been (from its very structure) that it's the sort of thing that Time Lord children learn in school and eventually outgrow.

In general, the implication of Day of the Doctor is that, for all that the stories of the series are somewhat more mature in their approach much of the time, the Doctor has somewhat deliberately reverted. The Doctor has always had both a child-like and a child-ish streak to him, but 10 and 11 have brought the child-like streak out much more strongly, while the War Doctor was Very Serious and hence, very grown-up.

In some ways, the War Doctor reminding the Doctor that being a grown-up should not be a bad thing is also a set-up for the new, more mature (age-wise, anyway -- we'll see about his personality) Doctor debuting in August...

  • It's not clear if the War Doctor means it was actually a phrase used in childhood, or just means that it sounds childlike (which I think it does, on purpose). For reference, his first comment when they use the phrase is "Timey what? Timey-wimey?", which doesn't necessarily sound like he recognizes it, and then later he says to them "Oh, we might as well get started. Help to pass the timey-wimey. Do you have to talk like children? What is it that makes you so ashamed of being a grown up?"
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 16:54
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    Also, it was established in "The Three Doctors" that when multiple versions of the Doctor are around each other they have a telepathic connection, so an alternative explanation for what happened in "Time Crash" is that Five just picked up on Ten's thoughts, even though he had never heard the phrase before.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 17:02
  • @Hypnosifl If they have a telepathic connection in Time Crash, how come Five doesn't recognise Ten at all, and Ten has a hard time convincing Five that he's really him?
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 9:43
  • @Mr Lister - from what I remember of "The Three Doctors", the telepathic connection was something they had to concentrate on, so you could imagine that Five was making an effort to read Ten's thoughts when he was explaining how he knew what to do in order to save them.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 12:38
  • The 5th Doctor's implied to have used it once, seeing as he and the 10th Doctor both say it together, and 10 pretty much says he based his regeneration off him (younger, sporty, and more likable). But maybe because the War Doctor was a seriously, grouchy old man, he felt embarrassed that he would use Timey-Wimey, in his past and future. He even asks the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors why they're so ashamed of being grown up
    – L.J Rob
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 11:50

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