Top 31 Slang For In The Past – Meaning & Usage

Step back in time with us as we explore the vintage slang that once ruled the streets and social scenes. From groovy expressions to far-out phrases, we’ve dug deep to bring you a blast from the past that will leave you feeling like a true time traveler. Get ready to reminisce and expand your lexicon with our curated list of slang for in the past.

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1. Back in the day

This phrase is used to refer to a time in the past, usually a nostalgic or memorable period. It implies a sense of longing or reminiscing about a previous era.

  • For example, “Back in the day, we used to ride our bikes everywhere.”
  • A person might say, “Back in the day, we didn’t have smartphones. We had to actually talk to each other.”
  • In a conversation about music, someone might say, “Back in the day, the ’90s had the best hip-hop music.”

2. Yesteryear

This word refers to a time in the past, often with a sense of nostalgia or romanticism. It is a poetic or literary term used to evoke a bygone era.

  • For instance, “In yesteryear, people used to dress more formally for everyday occasions.”
  • A person might say, “Yesteryear was a simpler time, without all the technology we have today.”
  • In a discussion about classic movies, someone might say, “Yesteryear had some of the greatest films ever made.”

3. Once upon a time

This phrase is commonly used to begin fairy tales or stories, but it can also be used to refer to a time in the distant past. It adds a sense of whimsy or fantasy to the description of the past.

  • For example, “Once upon a time, people believed in magic and mythical creatures.”
  • A person might say, “Once upon a time, life was much simpler and less complicated.”
  • In a conversation about history, someone might say, “Once upon a time, kings and queens ruled the land.”

4. In days of yore

This phrase is an archaic way of referring to the past, particularly a time long ago or in ancient history. It adds a poetic or romantic flair to descriptions of historical periods.

  • For instance, “In days of yore, knights and chivalry were highly valued.”
  • A person might say, “In days of yore, people relied on handwritten letters for communication.”
  • In a discussion about mythology, someone might say, “In days of yore, gods and goddesses walked among mortals.”

5. In bygone days

This phrase is used to describe a time in the past, often with a sense of nostalgia or longing. It suggests that the described period has passed and will not return.

  • For example, “In bygone days, people used to gather around the fireplace for warmth and storytelling.”
  • A person might say, “In bygone days, families used to eat dinner together every night.”
  • In a conversation about fashion, someone might say, “In bygone days, women wore elegant dresses and hats.”

6. In former times

This phrase refers to a time period that occurred before the present or recent times. It implies a sense of nostalgia or a longing for the past.

  • For example, someone might say, “In former times, people relied on handwritten letters to communicate.”
  • When discussing technology advancements, one might mention, “In former times, we didn’t have smartphones or social media.”
  • A person reminiscing about fashion trends might say, “In former times, bell-bottom jeans were all the rage.”

7. In days of old

This phrase is used to describe a time period that existed in the past, often associated with a sense of romanticism or idealization.

  • For instance, someone might say, “In days of old, chivalry was highly valued.”
  • When discussing music preferences, one might mention, “In days of old, vinyl records were the primary way to listen to music.”
  • A person reminiscing about childhood memories might say, “In days of old, we used to play outside until the streetlights came on.”

8. In the good old days

This phrase is used to refer to a time period in the past that is remembered fondly or seen as better or simpler compared to the present.

  • For example, someone might say, “In the good old days, people spent more time with their families and less time on screens.”
  • When discussing cultural changes, one might mention, “In the good old days, people had more respect for authority.”
  • A person reminiscing about their youth might say, “In the good old days, we didn’t have smartphones and social media to distract us.”

9. In the olden days

This phrase is used to refer to a time period in the past, often associated with a sense of nostalgia or a longing for a simpler time.

  • For instance, someone might say, “In the olden days, people relied on handwritten letters for communication.”
  • When discussing transportation, one might mention, “In the olden days, people traveled by horse and carriage.”
  • A person reminiscing about family traditions might say, “In the olden days, we used to gather around the dinner table every Sunday.”

10. In ancient times

This phrase refers to a time period that is extremely old or from a distant past, often associated with ancient civilizations or historical events.

  • For example, someone might say, “In ancient times, the pyramids were built as tombs for pharaohs.”
  • When discussing mythology, one might mention, “In ancient times, gods and goddesses were believed to have direct influence over human affairs.”
  • A person studying history might say, “In ancient times, the Roman Empire was a dominant force in Europe.”

11. In the old days

This phrase is used to refer to a time period that has already passed, usually a time that is seen as nostalgic or significant in some way.

  • For example, “In the old days, people used to write letters instead of sending emails.”
  • When reminiscing about the past, someone might say, “In the old days, we didn’t have smartphones.”
  • Reflecting on a bygone era, a person might say, “In the old days, families would gather around the radio for entertainment.”

12. In the days of our forefathers

This phrase is used to refer to a time period in the past, specifically during the era of one’s forefathers or ancestors.

  • For instance, “In the days of our forefathers, people relied on horses for transportation.”
  • When discussing traditions or customs, someone might say, “In the days of our forefathers, it was common to have large family gatherings.”
  • Reflecting on the past, a person might say, “In the days of our forefathers, life was simpler and less complicated.”

13. In the days of yesteryear

This phrase is used to refer to a time period in the past, often with a sense of nostalgia or romanticism.

  • For example, “In the days of yesteryear, people would gather around the piano and sing together.”
  • When discussing past cultural trends, someone might say, “In the days of yesteryear, bell-bottom pants were all the rage.”
  • Reflecting on a bygone era, a person might say, “In the days of yesteryear, life seemed simpler and more carefree.”

14. In the days of long ago

This phrase is used to refer to a time period in the distant past, often with a sense of reverence or awe.

  • For instance, “In the days of long ago, ancient civilizations built magnificent structures.”
  • When discussing historical events, someone might say, “In the days of long ago, wars were fought with swords and shields.”
  • Reflecting on a different era, a person might say, “In the days of long ago, people had a strong connection to nature and the land.”

15. In the days of our ancestors

This phrase is used to refer to a time period in the past, specifically during the era of one’s ancestors or predecessors.

  • For example, “In the days of our ancestors, hunting and gathering was the primary way of obtaining food.”
  • When discussing cultural heritage, someone might say, “In the days of our ancestors, storytelling was an important tradition.”
  • Reflecting on the past, a person might say, “In the days of our ancestors, people lived in harmony with nature and had a deep respect for the earth.”

16. In the days of olden times

This phrase is used to refer to a time long ago, often with a sense of nostalgia or romanticism. It implies a time before the present, often suggesting a simpler or more traditional way of life.

  • For example, one might say, “In the days of olden times, people used to communicate by sending letters.”
  • When discussing history, a person might mention, “In the days of olden times, knights and castles were common.”
  • A storyteller might begin a tale with, “In the days of olden times, there was a magical kingdom.”

17. In the days of our grandparents

This phrase refers to a specific period in the past when our grandparents were alive. It suggests a time that is further back than our own experiences, but still within the realm of personal connection.

  • For instance, someone might say, “In the days of our grandparents, people didn’t have smartphones.”
  • When discussing family traditions, a person might mention, “In the days of our grandparents, Sunday dinners were a big event.”
  • A person reflecting on societal changes might comment, “In the days of our grandparents, gender roles were more strictly defined.”

18. In the days of antiquity

This phrase refers to a period in history that is very distant in the past, often associated with ancient civilizations and cultures. It implies a time before modern technology and societal structures.

  • For example, one might say, “In the days of antiquity, the Egyptians built magnificent pyramids.”
  • When discussing mythology, a person might mention, “In the days of antiquity, gods and goddesses were believed to rule the world.”
  • A historian might talk about, “In the days of antiquity, the Roman Empire was a dominant force.”

19. In the days of our elders

This phrase refers to a time in the past when older generations were alive and active. It suggests a time that is further back than our own experiences, but still within the realm of personal connection and familial influence.

  • For instance, someone might say, “In the days of our elders, people relied on landline telephones.”
  • When discussing cultural traditions, a person might mention, “In the days of our elders, handwritten letters were the primary form of communication.”
  • A person reflecting on societal changes might comment, “In the days of our elders, community gatherings were more common and valued.”

20. In the days of our predecessors

This phrase refers to a time in the past when previous generations were alive and active. It suggests a time that is further back than our own experiences, but still within the realm of personal connection and historical lineage.

  • For example, one might say, “In the days of our predecessors, people traveled by horse and carriage.”
  • When discussing technological advancements, a person might mention, “In the days of our predecessors, the invention of electricity revolutionized daily life.”
  • A historian might talk about, “In the days of our predecessors, the Industrial Revolution transformed society.”

21. In the days of yore

This phrase is used to refer to a time long ago, often associated with a romanticized or nostalgic view of history.

  • For example, “In the days of yore, knights would go on quests to rescue damsels in distress.”
  • A storyteller might begin a tale by saying, “In the days of yore, there was a mighty king who ruled with wisdom and strength.”
  • When reminiscing about simpler times, someone might say, “I miss the days of yore when life was slower and less complicated.”

22. In times gone by

This expression is used to describe a period of time that has already passed, often with a sense of nostalgia or reflection.

  • For instance, “In times gone by, people used to gather around the fireplace to tell stories.”
  • When discussing the evolution of technology, one might say, “In times gone by, we didn’t have smartphones or the internet.”
  • A grandparent might share memories with their grandchildren, saying, “In times gone by, we used to play outside until the streetlights came on.”

23. In the days of our forerunners

This phrase refers to a time before the present, emphasizing the connection between the past and the present.

  • For example, “In the days of our forerunners, people relied on handwritten letters to communicate.”
  • When discussing advancements in medicine, one might say, “In the days of our forerunners, diseases that were once deadly can now be cured.”
  • A historian might explain, “In the days of our forerunners, societies were organized differently, with different social structures and customs.”

24. In the days of our antecedents

This expression is used to refer to a time preceding the present, highlighting the ancestral or historical connection.

  • For instance, “In the days of our antecedents, people traveled long distances by horse and carriage.”
  • When discussing cultural traditions, one might say, “In the days of our antecedents, certain rituals and ceremonies were practiced.”
  • A genealogist might trace a family’s lineage, saying, “In the days of our antecedents, our ancestors immigrated to this country and built a new life.”

25. In the days of our precursors

This phrase is used to describe a time before the current era, often referring to those who came before and paved the way.

  • For example, “In the days of our precursors, explorers set sail to discover new lands.”
  • When discussing scientific breakthroughs, one might say, “In the days of our precursors, they laid the foundation for our understanding of the natural world.”
  • A teacher might introduce a lesson by saying, “In the days of our precursors, great thinkers and philosophers shaped the course of history.”

26. In the days of our progenitors

This phrase is a more formal way of referring to the past, specifically the time of our ancestors or predecessors.

  • For example, a historian might say, “In the days of our progenitors, people relied on hunting and gathering for survival.”
  • In a discussion about cultural traditions, someone might mention, “In the days of our progenitors, storytelling was a central part of community life.”
  • A writer might use this phrase in a narrative, such as, “In the days of our progenitors, the land was untouched by human hands.”

27. In days gone by

This phrase is a nostalgic way of referring to a time in the past, often implying that things were better or simpler back then.

  • For instance, someone might say, “In days gone by, people used to gather around the fireplace to share stories.”
  • In a discussion about technology, a person might reminisce, “In days gone by, we didn’t have smartphones to distract us.”
  • A writer might use this phrase in a historical novel, such as, “In days gone by, knights roamed the land in search of adventure.”

28. In the distant past

This phrase refers to a time in the past that is far removed from the present.

  • For example, a scientist might say, “In the distant past, dinosaurs roamed the Earth.”
  • In a discussion about ancient civilizations, someone might mention, “In the distant past, the Egyptians built magnificent pyramids.”
  • A storyteller might use this phrase to set the stage for a fairy tale, such as, “In the distant past, there was a kingdom ruled by a wise and just king.”

29. In the days of old

This phrase refers to a time in the past that is considered ancient or historic.

  • For instance, a historian might say, “In the days of old, people believed in mythical creatures and gods.”
  • In a discussion about cultural traditions, someone might mention, “In the days of old, people used to celebrate harvest festivals.”
  • A writer might use this phrase to describe a lost civilization, such as, “In the days of old, an advanced civilization flourished in this land.”

30. Way back when

This phrase is a colloquial way of referring to a time in the distant past.

  • For example, someone might say, “Way back when, we used to walk to school uphill both ways.”
  • In a discussion about family history, a person might reminisce, “Way back when, my grandparents immigrated to this country.”
  • A storyteller might use this phrase to begin a tale, such as, “Way back when, there was a magical kingdom hidden in the depths of the forest.”

31. In the days of our forebears

This phrase is a more formal and poetic way of referring to events or times that occurred in the past. It is often used to evoke a sense of nostalgia or to emphasize the passage of time.

  • For example, a historian might say, “In the days of our forebears, life was much different than it is today.”
  • In a discussion about traditional customs, someone might mention, “In the days of our forebears, people used to gather around the fire for storytelling.”
  • A writer might use this phrase in a novel to set the scene, “In the days of our forebears, the village was a bustling hub of activity.”
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