Definition of past in English:



  • 1Gone by in time and no longer existing:

    ‘the danger is now past’
    • ‘What happened in Athens is now past.’
    • ‘The days are long past when we sent children up chimneys to sweep them.’
    • ‘Surely the age of bigotry is past.’
    • ‘But some argue the worst may be past.’
    • ‘He is a reminder of the site's history, a unique tie to stories and advice from times past.’
    • ‘Each sketch is an individual work of art and represents a historically accurate reflection of a time past.’
    • ‘The Conservative Party came round to him, and by October the worst of the dangers of that year were past.’
    • ‘Above all the book recalls some of the village's characters from days long past.’
    • ‘Several of his long-time customers commented that his produce tasted better than in years past, and was keeping for longer.’
    gone by, over, over and done with, no more, gone, done, dead and buried, finished, ended, forgotten, bygone, former, old, of old, earlier, long-ago, ancient, defunct, extinct
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    1. 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’
      • ‘Forget the past performance, you now need to focus on the future and find such investments.’
      • ‘However they have not made any correlation between the current problem and the past accident.’
      • ‘It is time to forget past differences and work together for the larger interest of the nation.’
      • ‘Each is accused of a past crime that they have not yet been prosecuted for.’
      • ‘Maple Leaf Gardens has been our town square and remains a repository of our dreams and past glories.’
      • ‘He is a past pupil of Gortnor Abbey Convent and Anthony is now studying at GMIT Galway.’
      • ‘On past experience with your Journal I don't expect this pro-blood sports letter to be printed.’
      • ‘In today's Dubrovnik, you can just make out the joins where new stone has been melded with old, like the scars of a past life.’
      • ‘Mr Wilson said past experiences had shown voting was often done in the initial days of polls opening.’
      • ‘Makinen is also a past winner, all of which will make the most arduous rally in the WRC a hot contest.’
      • ‘When I left I felt ashamed that even as a seasoned traveller I had avoided this area for fear of the past conflict.’
      • ‘The newly adopted Lords' amendment on smacking will inspire many parents to examine their past conduct.’
      • ‘But she would not have to reimburse the Government for any past benefits to which she had been entitled.’
      • ‘The other obvious challenger is Joseba Beloki, a podium finisher in the past three Tours.’
      • ‘Mrs Taylor-Silk said the break would give the family a chance to forget about past worries and look to the future.’
      • ‘The union's offer to assist the government is completely in line with its past practices.’
      • ‘On the other hand, it is also prudent for the majority of us to learn from our past mistakes and experiences.’
      • ‘In their past nine matches they have lost seven times, and have scored just 15 times in the league all season.’
      • ‘Club captain Johnson and past captain Jacobs completed six rounds of golf in a day to raise money for charity.’
      • ‘Any artist who has had their past work stamped with classic status must surely find themselves in a bind.’
      • ‘However, in light of past practices, it is doubtful whether they will live up to those pledges.’
      previous, former, prior, foregoing, late, erstwhile, as was, one-time, sometime, ex-
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    2. 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’
      • ‘Millions of pounds have been spent in an attempt to revive the town in the past five years and a new high school has been created.’
      • ‘The film Spark, which has been shot in Keighley over the past four weeks, is expected to go on general release next year.’
      • ‘With just six hours opening yesterday, a spokesman for the store said it was probably one of the quieter days of the past month.’
      • ‘Word around Wellington in the past three weeks is that Clark's staff have been panicking.’
      • ‘In all the grim news of the past couple of weeks the Special Olympics stood out as an example of the good that is in the world.’
      • ‘Over the past week, break-ins have taken place at Kill and also in our local church at Saleen.’
      • ‘The planting has been taking place over the past two weeks, with primary school children invited to help with the work.’
      • ‘Last year we were in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and some of those other places that have been in the news this past week.’
      • ‘He has spent the past decade, and the past week, attempting to do just that.’
      • ‘This past weekend saw the season home opener on Saturday night against the Rams.’
      • ‘The price of a gallon of gas jumped to record highs this past week here in the United States.’
      • ‘For the past two weeks, the Western world has seen something remarkable occur in Ukraine.’
      • ‘In the past two Sundays I've seen two of the best club league games I've ever enjoyed.’
      • ‘Sully had skipped too much school the past week and a bit to go completely unnoticed.’
      • ‘There is a long-established genre of writing about boys' public schools in the past century.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Listen to what the vice president had to say about the Texas governor this past week.’
      • ‘The school has been through a period of ups and downs over the past year.’
      • ‘The government has spent more than eight trillion yen in failed attempts to bail the banks out over the past four years.’
      last, recent, preceding, latter
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    3. 1.3Grammar [attributive] (of a tense) expressing an action that has happened or a state that previously existed.
      • ‘This is a bond of trust that football writers speak of only in the past tense.’
      • ‘We often use the past tense in English to describe an imagined present or future.’
      • ‘Pashto has a rich agreement mechanism, but one that is manifested differently in the present and past tenses.’
      • ‘British imperialism is habitually referred to in the past tense, as if it had gone the way of the empire.’
      • ‘It's no secret that this was the case, but these comments were all made in the past tense.’


  • 1usually the pastThe 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’
    • ‘Deep cleaning is now required, whereas in the past street cleaners were able to keep gutters and footpaths clean.’
    • ‘As irritating as romanticising the past might be to outsiders, those bound up in it must start to consider its effects.’
    • ‘It seems as if every new soul singer is instantly compared to one or more of the legends of the past.’
    • ‘When I've had a drink in the past it's been to enhance the way I was feeling.’
    • ‘Co-op stores in West Yorkshire have frequently been attacked in the past.’
    • ‘For Heavey, the performance served as a reminder of the consistency he has shown in the past.’
    • ‘His history classes emphasized the importance of telling stories as a way of making sense of the past.’
    • ‘Budding archaeologists from across the county gathered in Swindon to learn about treasures from the past.’
    • ‘Despite a rocket lending a futuristic flavour to the panto, the traditional family show also harks back to the past.’
    • ‘In the past it has been dirty tricks - accidental, of course - which caused concern.’
    • ‘Tennis buffs would remember them as the greatest women players from the past.’
    • ‘We have been met in the past with surly and indifferent service at many retail outlets.’
    • ‘He offers a change from the discredited old politicians of the past.’
    • ‘Gradually, though, she has begun to look at other painters of the past.’
    • ‘This may be the future of policing, but it's the policing of the past.’
    • ‘Barney is more sympathetic to the suggestion that the past counts against us.’
    • ‘But something rather unexpected happened as I gazed at these images of the past.’
    • ‘For each of the men their existence has been brought back to these moments of the past.’
    • ‘But by the standards of the past it had been a deplorable period in local eyes.’
    • ‘They are expressing the national agenda of their new country by documenting important moments in the past.’
    formerly, previously, in days gone by, in times gone by, in years gone by, in bygone days, back in the day, in former times, in the old days, in the good old days, at one time, in days of old, in the olden days, in olden times
    before, hitherto, once, once upon a time, time was when, in auld lang syne, long ago, in antiquity
    in days of yore, of yore, in yesteryear
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    1. 1.1 The history of a person or place:
      ‘the monuments act as guidelines through the country's colourful past’
      • ‘Significant events from the town's past will also be acted out by Canon Slade School students.’
      • ‘Some people fear their partners' pasts, viewing them as a threat to their own relationship.’
      • ‘We uncovered a controversial policy which allows people with serious criminal pasts to be considered for a licence if they have been ‘clean’ for as little as three years.’
      • ‘As the characters drift toward a common fate, we see their pasts in luscious detail.’
      • ‘We never really talked about our pasts, only our futures.’
      • ‘Detectives are interested in the past of their elderly odd-job man Romka.’
      • ‘They talked about their pasts, their goals, and their futures.’
      • ‘Guys don't talk to each other about our feelings, and that was especially true when you lived in a foster home with six other people with pasts you knew virtually nothing about.’
      • ‘The Malabar region, like any other region in Kerala, has a very rich historic past.’
      • ‘While there are still reminders of the colonial past, Sydney is a city, in human terms, in the teenage years.’
      • ‘And it is not just the miners that use their banners as reminders of their heroic past.’
      • ‘Given Cox's past, it is hardly surprising he acquired such coping mechanisms.’
      • ‘Public archives are a tremendously rich resource of evidence about our collective past.’
      • ‘The hotel has a colourful past.’
      • ‘You have people with checkered pasts and lots of problems.’
      • ‘The historic broadcast presents a fascinating glimpse into the past of the country and of television itself.’
      • ‘Every night after dinner my parents would sit and talk about this uncle or that aunt, talking about their individual and collective pasts.’
      • ‘The story is beefed up with a colourful scale of playable characters who gradually join your team and unfold facets of their distinct personalities and pasts.’
      • ‘When they die, some things will be said that haven't been said before because they are controversial figures with colourful pasts.’
      • ‘Two cities recently paid homage to their pasts and their futures by dedicating groves of life-giving trees with historic connections.’
      history, background, life story, life, experience, career to date, biography
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    2. 1.2informal A part of a person's history that is considered to be shameful:
      ‘the heroine was a lady with a past’
      • ‘Alethea, a poet with a past, watches and notes, despite encroaching blindness.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He's also desperate to unearth Lady Dedlock's secret past and is intent on making her life hell.’
      • ‘The once-revered footballer is no different from any other alcoholic with a past.’
  • 2Grammar
    A past tense or form of a verb:

    ‘a simple past of the first conjugation’
    • ‘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.’


  • 1To or on the further side of:

    ‘he rode on past the crossroads’
    • ‘The midfielder struck a low drive with the outside of his boot, past the goalkeeper's outstretched hand and off the post.’
    • ‘I walked several miles south along the beach past Venice and just spent some time relaxing and breathing in the sea air.’
    • ‘Leaving the boardwalk, the track climbed through forest and past a small waterfall.’
    • ‘Five minutes later Owen beat Dixon to a long through ball and side footed the ball past Seaman for a late, late winner.’
    • ‘There is no time to get Tom, so he follows the men through the town and past the quarry.’
    • ‘A few miles along the river, continue past the ruins of a twelfth century abbey, and over an old stone bridge.’
    • ‘The sun was just reaching its peak when the horse and rider rode past the town's gates.’
    • ‘From that classroom, you turned down a side corridor, past the changing rooms and into the sports hall.’
    • ‘Cross the river by the footbridge and continue through Glen Buckie past the farm buildings of Ballimore.’
    • ‘The ride will take them along the coast of Port Philip Bay and past seaside villages along the Morning Peninsula.’
    • ‘She managed to break free and ran back past the station, through the town centre to Parkway.’
    • ‘What might surprise you, given that you can't even see it from the busy A176 which runs past it, is the lake.’
    • ‘The three teenagers approached the victims as they walked along the alleyway past the town's bowling club.’
    • ‘It was once a water tank on stilts, fed by the windmill across the mud track that runs just past it.’
    • ‘To get there, you must go past the Capitainerie and through the working bit of the boatyard.’
    • ‘A stroll through the gardens, past the pools and down a short flight of steps brought me to a great sweep of dark golden beach.’
    • ‘The large bathroom lies further along the hall, past a sizable storage cupboard.’
    • ‘We wandered upstairs and downstairs, through the garden, past the vegetable plot and back to a bus stop.’
    • ‘Explore the Lowther Hills or wander along lower-level paths, past the old lead mine workings.’
    • ‘The conduit may have been the one running along Damgate past the north end of Baxter Row.’
    into and out of, to the far side of, to the other side of, from one side of ... to the other, from end to end of, between, by, down, along, across, by way of, via
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    1. 1.1 In front of or from one side to the other of:
      ‘he began to drive slowly past the houses’
      • ‘They tiptoed along the wooden corridor past the closed door of the baby's room.’
      • ‘Since Christmas however, she had changed her route because she couldn't face walking past it every day.’
      • ‘I've walked past it loads of times and from the outside always thought it was just a dowdy 70s office block.’
      • ‘Twice a day I drive past it, on the way to work and on the way home.’
      • ‘He rides past a big white church on the left of him and passes some condos to his right.’
      • ‘Huge crowds are expected to file past the coffin, which will be guarded by a contingent of Gentlemen at Arms and Yeoman of the Guard.’
      • ‘The truck lurched through the streets, past buildings burning unabated and MPs in gun turrets.’
      • ‘Indeed, for a year or two in the early 1990s I must have taken the 53 bus past it twice a day.’
      • ‘I got my boyfriend to come and see and we saw them move fast past the front of our house and out of sight.’
      • ‘He was riding past us now, so I looked up to see better what he looked like.’
      • ‘I rode past many miles of homes and finally reached the bit of road that was more used.’
      • ‘I used to walk past it every day, down a long, winding, black path to school in the morning.’
      • ‘He can look back happily on all that: he owns the huge mansion he rode past on his bicycle while on his way to work in a factory.’
      • ‘I knew it to be Tom, and was not pleased to think that soon he would ride past me, teasing and making jests.’
      • ‘The police car sped straight through and past them without stopping, without even slowing.’
      • ‘He was worried that due to a hangover I might not make my plane so he and his wife decided to drive past my house just to check.’
      • ‘Jamie felt the cold wind blow past him as he rode through the hills faster than he ever had in his life.’
      • ‘Clem is sitting in the corner and I have to negotiate my way past several people to reach him.’
      • ‘A wheelchair can be a terrific advantage in life: you zoom past queues and everyone's very nice to you.’
      • ‘As I drove past it yesterday I allowed my imagination to range over possible meanings.’
      in front of, by, beyond
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  • 2Beyond in time; later than:

    ‘by this time it was past 3.30’
    ‘my watch said twenty past twelve’
    • ‘The family has been told Kerry is unlikely to live past his early teens.’
    • ‘I intend to continue practicing law past my 65th birthday, for as long as the firm will tolerate me.’
    • ‘We have had just 30 minutes of debate: we started at 20 to 5 and finished at 10 past 5.’
    • ‘He kept us up until well past 4am with hilarious stories of an actor's life.’
    • ‘I arranged to meet Stephen at half past two.’
    • ‘About half past midnight, the side-car stopped on a bridge above the Seine.’
    • ‘It was a fabulous gig, and the fans were so revved up by the event that we all must have stayed up well past 11.35 pm.’
    • ‘It was six days after Mandy disappeared that the Barclays' doorbell rang at half past midnight.’
    • ‘I got back from Lucca at half past midnight this morning, and spent about two minutes sorting the paper post.’
    • ‘At half past midday, during lunch, Pétain announces the cessation of hostilities.’
    • ‘At half past midnight in the bar of the Bull Bay Hotel I meet Pat, an old diving instructor.’
    • ‘Sober, sensible readers who get to bed by half past ten may have no fun, but they may be less likely to get heart disease than the rest of us.’
    • ‘The quiz only takes seconds, but the reading of the in-depth results may take you past your coffee break limit.’
    beyond, beyond the limits of, in excess of
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  • 3No longer capable of:

    ‘he is past giving the best advice’
    • ‘They were past being polite.’
    • ‘Perhaps foolishly I thought I was past getting excited by press releases.’
    • ‘It is impossible to capture the magic of Galway and most folk are well past analysing it all.’
    1. 3.1 Beyond the limits or scope of:
      ‘I was long past caring and immediately fell asleep on the bed’
      • ‘You have to be able to extend yourself past your limits and work in new ways for the individual.’
      • ‘How did so much bad writing get past the early script development phase, let alone into a final cut?’
      • ‘When you get past the early stages you will both work out what gets to each of you.’
      • ‘The blog is still up, but for reasons I no longer recall, I never got past four entries, and then gave up on the thing.’
      • ‘The garden is looking past its best and I'll soon have to go and put it to bed for the winter.’
      • ‘This year, she has taken her earnings past $6 million.’
      • ‘Indeed, institutions such as universities are now bureaucratized past belief.’
      • ‘If you can get past half the vocalists, there is some level of interest to be found.’
      • ‘To have some other arena past college to strive for is a great prospect for our kids.’
      • ‘Umberto says that to get past your physical limits you must dive with your head.’
      • ‘Invariably, they are sent at night by someone well past the legal limit for safe driving.’
      • ‘Once you get past that, young teenagers are capable of being as sophisticated as adults, but they are not seen to count.’
      • ‘It will be a dream come true for all those who can't think past flowers to score with their girlfriends.’


  • 1So as to pass from one side of something to the other:

    ‘a flotilla of glossy limousines swept past’
    • ‘I knew his timing, so one day I hid in the bushes at the hotel gate and photographed him as he rode past.’
    • ‘You can take your potato to a bench or a wall and watch people walk past.’
    • ‘She said that from her living room she caught a glimpse of the car going past and then heard the bang.’
    • ‘The defendant was cycling behind her and she stepped to one side to let him past.’
    • ‘I joined the queue about 15 cars behind him, so it took a good twenty minutes to get past.’
    • ‘Maria had just turned the corner when she spotted Val riding past.’
    • ‘Lone office workers bit into their lunches and watched people walk past, just as I was.’
    • ‘We've laughed at a bloke riding past on a bike and almost falling off as he tried to see through our window.’
    • ‘I then had to lie there, for five minutes, as boys on bikes rode past and laughed at me.’
    • ‘Erin McGrath witnessed the aftermath of the crash when she walked past half an hour later.’
    • ‘All day I have been watching the marchers file past, a few with flags, more with placards, all in a holiday mood.’
    • ‘As the air rushes past it collects small quantities of the solution which are then deposited onto the skin.’
    • ‘Becki pressed her face against the glass window and watched the world go past.’
    • ‘We watched as they came past, and then took the shortcut home, up through the sheep field to the Abbey.’
    • ‘As he spoke, a car whistled past with a loudspeaker reminding people it was polling day.’
    • ‘As Chris looked out his window, he saw a small bunny rabbit hop past through the yard.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Stopping at a red light, I idly watched a couple walking past, deep in an argument.’
    • ‘I watch the birds flying past in the sky, I listen to the sound of the oceans coming from the open windows.’
    • ‘As we rode past, a kitten stumbled out of the tall grass into the road.’
    along, by, on
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  • 2Used to indicate the lapse of time:

    ‘a week went past and nothing changed’
    • ‘Another hour will go past before they have a result.’
    • ‘Many folks lack the courage to do so, even when the time to wait before acting is long past.’
    • ‘Be careful though, you might get into a story-telling session and find the whole day has sped past.’
    • ‘We can recollect or retrospect the nature or character of a mental event just past.’
    • ‘The next half hour went past amazingly fast.’


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