Pastime vs past time

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Pastime and past time are two expressions that are spelled and pronounced in similar fashion, but have two different meanings. We will examine the definition of the terms pastime and past time, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Pastime refers to a something like a hobby, sport, or other pleasant activity a person indulges in regularly for purposes of enjoyment. A pastime is not an activity that one does for pay, it is not work. A pastime literally helps time to pass in a pleasurable manner. The word pastime entered the English language in the late 1600s as passe tyme, a translation of the French expression passe-temps. Note that pastime is spelled with only one t, pasttime is a common misspelling.

Past time is simply a phrase referring to something being late, something that should have already been done or already occurred. When hyphenated, as in past-time, the expression means old-fashioned, belonging to another, former time. This use dates from the late 1800s.


This is now a thing in the US, a new pastime, and it is spreading. (The Taipei Times)

It’s just another day in the USA, where violence is a pastime. (The Wisconsin State Journal)

Watching the rich and powerful screw up has always been a pleasurable pastime for the working class. (The Mankato Free Press)

“But it’s long past time for the powerful men in Hollywood to speak up, to be strong enough to say something, because silence is complicity.” (TIME Magazine)

It is past time that we as consumers make these global companies face the consequences of their actions, whether it be through boycott or by recreating these industries to ensure effective inclusion. (The Daily Illini)