once upon a time



  • IPA(key): /ˈwʌns.əˈpɑn.əˈtaɪ̯m/


once upon a time (not comparable)

  1. A long time ago; at some time in the past (a traditional beginning of children's stories, especially fairy tales).
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 308:
      There was once upon a time a charcoal-burner who had a son, and he was also a charcoal-burner.
    • 2012, Christoper Zara, chapter 2, in Tortured Artists: From Picasso and Monroe to Warhol and Winehouse, the Twisted Secrets of the World's Most Creative Minds:
      Long before popular music evolved its many genres and subgenres, the industry was driven by a simple one-size-fits-all philosophy [] Songwriters, once upon a time, wrote songs for the masses.
    • 2023, A. C. MacDonald, Twistwood Tales (comic), Andrews McMeel, →ISBN, page 138:
      Once upon a time, there was a Goblin Queen
      And she lived in a grand palace...
    I don't speak Spanish, but I could read it pretty well once upon a time.



Note: Many of the translations are literally “There once was” or "One time". The translation of “Once upon a time, there was a princess” into Italian, for example, would therefore be “C’era una volta una principessa” (literally, “There was once a princess”).

Further readingEdit