Definition of once upon a time in English:

once upon a time

phrase

  • 1At some time in the past (used as a conventional opening of a story).

    • ‘Maybe, once upon a time, without language skills or the ability to negotiate and rationalise and reason, we had to resort to violence.’
    • ‘Something truly dreadful must have happened to these guys once upon a time because what else could explain their complete lack of any emotion on stage.’
    • ‘Here goes: once upon a time, a couple years ago in an overblown naval base called San Diego you were giving a talk.’
    • ‘The boy starts his story once upon a time, knowing that's how stories begin.’
    • ‘As the conventional story goes, once upon a time the West slumbered in intellectual darkness.’
    • ‘So once upon a time, way back in the 80s, New Order released a song called ‘Bizzare Love Triangle’ and it was not very good.’
    • ‘Well once upon a time, which is when my story begins, there was a little boy who lived in that cottage and on a particular summer's afternoon he was standing out in the garden.’
    • ‘Apparently once upon a time, one of my relatives was thrown into prison for holding up stagecoaches on the highways of Sussex - just one of the stories which have filtered their way down through the generations.’
    • ‘Well, once upon a time, over a decade ago, I departed Istanbul possessed by the notion of reaching Moscow and riding the Trans-Siberian express all the way to China.’
    • ‘I remember once upon a time when I used to look good in clothes.’
    1. 1.1 Formerly:
      ‘once upon a time she would have been jealous, but no longer’
      • ‘Well, once upon a time, Americans would get their news by reading a newspaper or by watching television.’
      • ‘Trivial Pursuits was one of my favorite blogs once upon a time, and even after it shut down, I couldn't bring myself to get rid of the link.’
      • ‘And don't rewrite your own history to pretend that you didn't need the same help once upon a time.’
      • ‘So I will start by referring to a matter which, once upon a time (before I learnt wisdom), would have had me jumping up and down with fury.’
      • ‘Yes, once upon a time, I could read music, thanks to my grandfather.’
      • ‘I mean, they were a good band - I loved them once upon a time, and yes I had teenage girl dreams about Robert Plant.’
      • ‘For example, once upon a time, the Tax Department did not have ready access to your bank account information and unemployment benefits.’
      • ‘I have four (previously five, and once upon a time, nine) cats, so I have a little experience on this topic.’
      • ‘And once upon a time, potential students could be forgiven for assuming that such a degree course was a worthwhile investment of time and money.’
      • ‘But nothing has ever happened and the quarry has remained quiet as a ghost town whereas, once upon a time, it employed some 100 men.’
      formerly, previously, in the past, at one time, at one point, once upon a time, on a former occasion, on one occasion, one time, in one case, time was when, in days gone by, in times gone by, back in the day, in times past, in the old days, in the good old days, long ago
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