past / past/ • adj. gone by in time and no longer existing: the danger is now past. ∎ 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. ∎ (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. ∎ Gram. (of a tense) expressing an action that has happened or a state that previously existed.• n. 1. (usu. the past) the time or a period of time before the moment of speaking or writing: she found it hard to make ends meet in the past. ∎ the events of an earlier time: the war-damaged church is preserved as a reminder of the past. ∎ the history of a person, country, or institution: the monuments act as guidelines through the country's colorful past. ∎ a part of a person's history that is considered to be shameful: the heroine was a lady with a past.2. Gram. a past tense or form of a verb: a simple past of the first conjugation.• prep. to or on the further side of: he rode on past the crossroads. ∎ in front of or from one side to the other of: he began to drive slowly past the houses. ∎ beyond in time; later than: by this time it was past 3:30. ∎ no longer capable of: he is past giving the best advice. ∎ beyond the scope of: my hair was past praying for.• adv. 1. so as to pass from one side of something to the other: large angelfish swim slowly past. ∎ used to indicate the lapse of time: a week went past and nothing changed.2. at a time later by a specified amount than a particular known hour: we're having speeches in the dining room at half past.PHRASES: not put it past someone believe someone to be capable of doing something wrong or rash: I wouldn't put it past him to slip something into the drinks.DERIVATIVES: past·ness n.
See also 18. ANTIQUITY ; 174. FUTURE ; 207. HISTORY ; 269. MEMORY ; 304. ORIGINS .
- the condition of being first in a place and of having a relatively simple nature. —aboriginal, n., adj.
- adherence to or fondness for ancient things or customs. —antediluvian, n., adj.
- interest in the culture of antiquity, especially that of classical Greece and Rome. —antiquary, antiquarian, n. —antiquarian, adj.
- devotion to archaism. —archaeolater, n. —archaeolatrous, adj.
- an inclination toward old-fashioned things, speech, etc. Also archaicism. —archaist, n. —archaic, adj.
- a person who records time or the events that have occurred in time.
- Obsolete, the recording or study of past events.
- strong fondness or admiration for the culture, mores, etc, of the Middle Ages. —medievalist, n. —medievalistic, adj.
- paleology, palaeology
- the study of antiquities. —paleologist, palaeologist, n. —paleologic, palaeologic, paleological, palaeological, adj.
- paleopathology, palaeopathology
- Medicine. the study of diseases from former times as found in fossils and mummified remains.
- paletiology, palaetiology
- an explanation of events of the past through the laws of causation. —paletiologist, palaetiologist, n. —paletiological, palaetiological, adj.
- the study of papyrus manuscripts. —papyrologist, n. —papyrological, adj.
- Obsolete, one devoted to the archaic. —philarchaic, adj.
See also first past the post, the mill cannot grind with the water that is past, the age of miracles is past at miracle.
Hence as prep. beyond in time or place XIII; arising from such construction as ‘The day is short and it is passed pryme’; whence ellipt. as adv. XIX (e.g. to go past).