Definition of past in English:


Syllabification: past
Pronunciation: /past


  • 1Gone by in time and no longer existing: the danger is now past
    More example sentences
    • The Conservative Party came round to him, and by October the worst of the dangers of that year were past.
    • Surely the age of bigotry is past.
    • But some argue the worst may be past.
    gone (by), over (and done with), no more, done, bygone, former, (of) old, olden, long-ago
    literary of yore
  • 1.1 [attributive] Belonging to a former time: they made a study of the reasons why past attempts had failed he is a past chairman of the society
    More example sentences
    • Club captain Johnson and past captain Jacobs completed six rounds of golf in a day to raise money for charity.
    • The union's offer to assist the government is completely in line with its past practices.
    • It is time to forget past differences and work together for the larger interest of the nation.
  • 1.2 [attributive] (Of a specified period of time) occurring before and leading up to the time of speaking or writing: the band has changed over the past twelve months
    More example sentences
    • Michelle has been doing a lot of writing over the past year and has just signed a record deal with Mercury Records.
    • We only went out for two months over this past summer and it was really hard on her when we broke up.
    • There is a long-established genre of writing about boys' public schools in the past century.
    last, recent, preceding
  • 1.3 Grammar (Of a tense) expressing an action that has happened or a state that previously existed.
    More example sentences
    • Pashto has a rich agreement mechanism, but one that is manifested differently in the present and past tenses.
    • We often use the past tense in English to describe an imagined present or future.
    • British imperialism is habitually referred to in the past tense, as if it had gone the way of the empire.


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  • 1 (usually the past) The time or a period of time before the moment of speaking or writing: she found it hard to make ends meet in the past the war-damaged church is preserved as a reminder of the past
    More example sentences
    • They are expressing the national agenda of their new country by documenting important moments in the past.
    • For each of the men their existence has been brought back to these moments of the past.
    • We have been met in the past with surly and indifferent service at many retail outlets.
    formerly, previously, in days/years/times gone by, in former times, in the (good) old days, in days of old, in olden times, once (upon a time)
    literary in days of yore, in yesteryear
  • 1.1The history of a person, country, or institution: the monuments act as guidelines through the country’s colorful past
    More example sentences
    • They talked about their pasts, their goals, and their futures.
    • The hotel has a colourful past.
    • Given Cox's past, it is hardly surprising he acquired such coping mechanisms.
    history, background, life (story)
  • 1.2 informal A part of a person’s history that is considered to be shameful: the heroine was a lady with a past
    More example sentences
    • It's a basic film noir set-up: a guy with a past and a blonde with a problem, and a supporting cast of lost souls.
    • The once-revered footballer is no different from any other alcoholic with a past.
    • He's also desperate to unearth Lady Dedlock's secret past and is intent on making her life hell.
  • 2 Grammar A past tense or form of a verb: a simple past of the first conjugation
    More example sentences
    • In their recounting of experience encourage them to use the past continuous and the simple past.
    • These percentages of the simple verb form in the past were much lower than those for the simple present.
    • It takes time and effort to master the vowel and consonantal changes associated with the past of irregular verbs.


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  • 1To or on the further side of: he rode on past the crossroads
    More example sentences
    • The sun was just reaching its peak when the horse and rider rode past the town's gates.
    • Five minutes later Owen beat Dixon to a long through ball and side footed the ball past Seaman for a late, late winner.
    • I walked several miles south along the beach past Venice and just spent some time relaxing and breathing in the sea air.
  • 1.1In front of or from one side to the other of: he began to drive slowly past the houses
    More example sentences
    • He rides past a big white church on the left of him and passes some condos to his right.
    • I rode past many miles of homes and finally reached the bit of road that was more used.
    • I got my boyfriend to come and see and we saw them move fast past the front of our house and out of sight.
    in front of, by
  • 1.2Beyond in time; later than: by this time it was past 3:30
    More example sentences
    • I got back from Lucca at half past midnight this morning, and spent about two minutes sorting the paper post.
    • The family has been told Kerry is unlikely to live past his early teens.
    • I arranged to meet Stephen at half past two.
  • 1.3No longer capable of: he is past giving the best advice
    More example sentences
    • It is impossible to capture the magic of Galway and most folk are well past analysing it all.
    • They were past being polite.
    • Perhaps foolishly I thought I was past getting excited by press releases.
  • 1.4Beyond the scope of: my hair was past praying for
    More example sentences
    • To have some other arena past college to strive for is a great prospect for our kids.
    • When you get past the early stages you will both work out what gets to each of you.
    • You have to be able to extend yourself past your limits and work in new ways for the individual.


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  • 1So as to pass from one side of something to the other: large angelfish swim slowly past
    More example sentences
    • She said that from her living room she caught a glimpse of the car going past and then heard the bang.
    • He was much quicker but could not get past and unfortunately, the time deficit by the time of his first stop was too big to handle.
    • As the air rushes past it collects small quantities of the solution which are then deposited onto the skin.
    along, by, on
  • 1.1Used to indicate the lapse of time: a week went past and nothing changed
    More example sentences
    • We can recollect or retrospect the nature or character of a mental event just past.
    • Many folks lack the courage to do so, even when the time to wait before acting is long past.
    • The next half hour went past amazingly fast.


not put it past someone

Believe someone to be capable of doing something wrong or rash: I wouldn’t put it past him to slip something into the drinks
More example sentences
  • Just kidding about that last one-but don't put it past them!
  • Unless Labour announces a tax-break for publishers in the next Budget (and don't put it past them) this whole row should die down quickly.
  • He hasn't disappointed himself or me yet, so I don't put it past him to make something happen within a year.



More example sentences
  • She also says that the accompanying photographs provide ‘an exquisite index of the pastness of the past.’
  • It calls up the seeming paradox of writing a history, an account of pastness, of things that are of the relative present.
  • Yet pastness and futurity, he argued, are inherently contradictory; so nothing in reality can correspond to them.


Middle English: variant of passed, past participle of pass1.

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Word of the day coloratura
Pronunciation: ˌkɒlərəˈtjʊərə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody