once upon a time
- 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.
- 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”).