once upon a time

idiom

Definition of once upon a time

: at some time in the past He was a famous actor once upon a time.

Note: Once upon a time is the traditional way to begin a fairy tale.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess named Snow White.

More from Merriam-Webster on once upon a time

Nglish: Translation of once upon a time for Spanish Speakers

Comments on once upon a time

What made you want to look up once upon a time? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!