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.’
    • ‘The boy starts his story once upon a time, knowing that's how stories begin.’
    • ‘I remember once upon a time when I used to look good in clothes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Here goes: once upon a time, a couple years ago in an overblown naval base called San Diego you were giving a talk.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 Formerly.
      ‘once upon a time she would have been jealous, but no longer’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Well, once upon a time, Americans would get their news by reading a newspaper or by watching television.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And don't rewrite your own history to pretend that you didn't need the same help once upon a time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For example, once upon a time, the Tax Department did not have ready access to your bank account information and unemployment benefits.’
      • ‘I mean, they were a good band - I loved them once upon a time, and yes I had teenage girl dreams about Robert Plant.’
      • ‘I have four (previously five, and once upon a time, nine) cats, so I have a little experience on this topic.’
      • ‘Yes, once upon a time, I could read music, thanks to my grandfather.’
      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
      View synonyms