\ ˈpast How to pronounce past (audio) \

Definition of past

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : ago 12 years past started working on this project 10 years past
b : just gone or elapsed for the past few months I spoke with him this past weekend.
2 : having existed or taken place in a period before the present : bygone In past winters, we have had much more snow.
3 : of, relating to, or constituting a verb tense that is expressive of elapsed time and that in English is usually formed by internal vowel change (as in sang) or by the addition of a suffix (as in laughed)
4 : having served as a specified officer in an organization past president past champions

Definition of past (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : beyond the age for or of past playing with dolls
b : after half past two
2a : at the farther side of : beyond
b : in a course or direction going close to and then beyond drove past the house
3 obsolete : more than
4 : beyond the capacity, range, or sphere of past belief



Definition of past (Entry 3 of 4)

1a : time gone by
b : something that happened or was done in the past regret the past
2a : the past tense of a language
b : a verb form in the past tense
3 : a past life, history, or course of action especially : one that is kept secret



Definition of past (Entry 4 of 4)

: so as to reach and go beyond a point near at hand drove past

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Other Words from past


pastless \ ˈpas(t)-​ləs How to pronounce pastless (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for past

Synonyms: Adjective

erstwhile, former, late, old, once, onetime, other, quondam, sometime, whilom

Synonyms: Preposition

beyond, over

Synonyms: Noun

auld lang syne, history, yesterday, yesteryear, yore

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Examples of past in a Sentence


She was hired based on her past experience in sales. a past editor of the newspaper


The office is two blocks past the intersection. Turn left just past the stairs. We drove past the house. I must have walked right past her. He looked past me to the next customer.


Past, present, and future are all linked together. The past of “walk” is “walked.”


Several weeks went past before we heard from her.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Rey in The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens is reminiscent of the golden boys of saviors past, a Harry Potter reboot. Jill Gutowitz, Glamour, "Captain Marvel Is a New Kind of Female Hero," 11 Mar. 2019 Following its initial landing in 2004, the craft found evidence of past water on Mars, accumulating evidence of a rich, potentially habitable past on Mars. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "NASA Says Goodnight to Opportunity, Its Most Enduring Mars Rover," 13 Feb. 2019 For years now, she's been seen in hairstyles reminiscent of decades past, with equally retro makeup that makes a dramatic cat-eye the main focus. Marci Robin, Allure, "Lana Del Rey Posted a Bare-Faced Selfie and Fans Are Loving the Switch-Up," 15 Sep. 2018 This island, temporarily named Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (HTHH for short) after the older islands surrounding it, is one of only three in the past 150 years that have survived this long. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "A Young Island in the South Pacific Oozes Mysteries and Mud," 5 Feb. 2019 And for those who read all the way to the end, one Ars staffer even has past experience in customer service, leading to some tips on how to get on a customer rep's good side. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Negotiating with ISPs: Don’t accept broadband price hikes without a fight," 9 Nov. 2018 Bill was an active member of the community, serving on numerous church committees and library and town boards, and was an active member and past president of the Cheshire Rotary Club and First Congregational Church on the Green in Cheshire, CT., "William Carlton Gordon," 12 July 2018 What in her past life turned her into such a dedicated Gileadean, willing to tear down and psychologically/physically abuse the women who are forced to become Handmaids, only to build them back up with her twisted sense of care and discipline? Hank Stuever,, "We survived another grueling season of 'The Handmaid's Tale,' but here are 3 things we need from Season 3," 12 July 2018 In contrast with the show's past reputation, Underwood, for his part, provided a thoughtful and caring response. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "The Bachelor's MeToo Moment," 29 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Preposition

All Khosrowshahi had to do was look apologetic when asked about Uber’s past scandals, and then quickly pivot to the company’s new ethos, which was safety and corporate responsibility. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Uber," 29 Dec. 2018 According to Gwen, those painful past relationships are the reason the couple isn't rushing things. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Blake Shelton's Girlfriend Gwen Stefani Responds to Engagement Rumors," 18 Dec. 2018 Unfortunately, the small catch is that the value of Kate's ex-apartment has rocketed over the past sixteen years and, thanks to its dream location and rather famous past tenants, the home is now up for sale for a prospective £1,950,000 ($2,468,954). Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Kate and Pippa Middleton's Old London Apartment Is Up for Sale, if You Have a Spare $2.5 Million," 10 Dec. 2018 Investigators will look not just into current employees at those schools, but past employees and student-athletes too. Michael Mccann,, "Why Maryland Receiving FBI Subpoenas Should Worry Other College Programs, Basketball Players," 7 July 2018 Some of these slabs might have traveled down through the upper mantle, perhaps as far as the rugged 660-km boundary or just past it. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "Seismologists Discover Mountain Ranges 410 Miles Below Earth’s Surface," 19 Feb. 2019 But with a new baby—and help from her pals like Abigail (Lori Loughlin)—Elizabeth and loyal viewers alike will both find a way to move past Jack’s death. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Everything to Know About 'When Calls the Heart' Season 6," 17 Feb. 2019 Every 26 months, Earth catches up to Mars and moves past it. Mindy Weisberger, Fox News, "Why Mars appears to be moving backward," 16 July 2018 Some Serbs — whose team didn’t make it past the group stage — joked about Croatia being a better team, with a popular post on social media declaring that Serbia’s biggest success recently in soccer was being a neighbor to a World Cup finalist. Washington Post, "Mixed emotions in Balkans over Croatia’s World Cup success," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The idea came about when von Furstenberg and Longshore first met over afternoon tea in London this past fall. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Diane von Furstenberg and Ashley Longshore's New Exhibit Celebrates Legendary Women," 8 Mar. 2019 Gehry’s vision for 8150 Sunset might offer just that, and groundbreaking at the site could be akin to an archaeological dig, possibly offering people a glimpse into Hollywood’s past. Lesley M.m. Blume, Town & Country, "Inside Frank Gehry's Overhaul of Garden of Allah, L.A.’s Most Infamous Corner," 25 Feb. 2019 There has been scattered violence at the protests, with clashes between participants and riot police, and authorities worry that the extremists have taken over the center of the movement, risking a return to the darker episodes from France’s past. Lori Hinnant, The Seattle Times, "French yellow vest movement dogged by intolerance, extremism," 29 Jan. 2019 His recent album, Dying Star, includes songs about his past struggles. Marie Milano, Country Living, "How Kacey Musgraves's Marriage to Husband Ruston Kelly Inspired Her Album 'Golden Hour'," 13 Nov. 2018 The complaint was elevated to HQ’s board of directors, and set off alarms, given Kroll’s past. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "HQ Trivia was a blockbuster hit — but internal turmoil and a shrinking audience have pushed it to the brink," 5 Nov. 2018 Well, this is certainly a pleasant blast from the past. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "'Law & Order: SVU' Fans Are Demanding Jennifer Esposito Returns to the Show for Good," 16 Feb. 2019 If Claire represents a more liberal way of thinking from the future, Jamie is her alpha male foil from the past. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "We Need to Talk About Outlander Season 4," 25 Jan. 2019 The names of presidential candidates in the past have tended toward the bland and monosyllabic. Ken Thomas, WSJ, "The Biggest 2020 Election Question: Whose Name Will Get Mangled Worst?," 14 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

The kid on the back of my bike also had a slingshot and was shooting monkeys in the trees and some other people going past on motorbikes -- shooting rocks at them! Gab Ginsberg, Billboard, "Glass Animals Give Fans a Look at Their Stormy Red Rocks Set in 'The Other Side of Paradise' Video: Exclusive," 31 May 2018 As Chattuporn explained various customs to us, young monks in training, no more than 10 years old, strolled past silently in orange robes. David Amsden, Condé Nast Traveler, "A Bespoke River Cruise Through the Golden Triangle," 19 Nov. 2018 Several boxy, leather Dolce & Gabbana fall 2018 handbags hanging on drones floated past, eliciting gasps from the audience. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "Purse-Carrying Drones Hovered Down the Dolce & Gabbana Runway," 25 Feb. 2018 Consequently, the belt didn’t slide down as the miles ticked past, as happened on other packs. Kelly Bastone, Outside Online, "The Best Women’s Backpacking Packs," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'past.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of past


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1799, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for past

Adjective, Preposition, Noun, and Adverb

Middle English, from past participle of passen to pass

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Statistics for past

Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for past

The first known use of past was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for past



English Language Learners Definition of past

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: having existed in a time before the present : from, done, or used in an earlier time
used to refer to a time that has gone by recently
used to say what someone or something was in the past

English Language Learners Definition of past (Entry 2 of 4)

: at the farther side of (something) : beyond (a particular place)
: up to and beyond (a person or place)
: later than (a time)



English Language Learners Definition of past (Entry 3 of 4)

: an earlier time : the time before the present
: the events of a person's life, of a place, etc., before the present time



English Language Learners Definition of past (Entry 4 of 4)

: to and beyond a certain point or time


\ ˈpast How to pronounce past (audio) \

Kids Definition of past

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : of or relating to a time that has gone by I've worked for the past month.
2 : relating to a verb tense that expresses a time gone by
3 : no longer serving a past president

Kids Definition of past (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : beyond entry 2 sense 1 We left at ten minutes past five.
2 : going close to and then beyond She walked past my house.



Kids Definition of past (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : a former time In the past trains went from here to New York.
2 : life or history of a time gone by We're studying the nation's past.



Kids Definition of past (Entry 4 of 4)

: so as to pass by or beyond A deer ran past.

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More from Merriam-Webster on past

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with past

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for past

Spanish Central: Translation of past

Nglish: Translation of past for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of past for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about past

Comments on past

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


to corrupt or become corrupted

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