Definition of past noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//pɑːst//
    ; NAmE NAmE//pæst//
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  1. 1  the past [singular] the time that has gone by; things that happened in an earlier time I used to go there often in the past. the recent/distant past She looked back on the past without regret. Writing letters seems to be a thing of the past.
  2. 2  [countable] a person’s past life or career We don't know anything about his past. They say she has a ‘past’ (= bad things in her past life that she wishes to keep secret).
  3. 3 the past [singular] (grammar) = past tense See related entries: Grammar
  4. Word OriginMiddle English: variant of passed, past participle of pass.Extra examples Archaeology provides us with tools for reconstructing the past. Don’t worry about it—it’s all in the past now. Few remnants remain of the city’s glorious past. He tried in vain to recapture his past. He was forced to confront his forgotten past. I admit that I have made mistakes in the past. In an effort to make a complete break with the past, she sold everything and went abroad. It all happened in the distant past. Many modern festivals can be traced back to an ancient past. Memories from the past came flooding back to him. Political parties cannot escape from their pasts any more than individuals can. The counselling helped Dan to put the past behind him. The old market is a living link with the past, unchanged for hundreds of years. The uncovering of the buried town gives us a unique glimpse of the past. These customs are a relic of the country’s colonial past. Those memories belong to the past and I don’t want to think about them. We’re going to have to stop living in the past and invest in new technology if the company is to survive. a new device that makes such problems a thing of the past at some time in her past events stretching back many years into the past ghosts from his past great artists of the past She didn’t tell them about her boyfriend’s criminal past. The country still suffers as a result of its colonial past. They say she has a ‘past’. We don’t know anything about his past.Idioms (informal) a person or thing from your past that you see, hear, meet, etc. again in the present
    the (dim and) distant past
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    a long time ago stories from the distant past In the distant past this land was covered in forests.
    to behave as though society, etc. has not changed, when in fact it has
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: past