once upon a time


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once upon a time

Cliché once in the past. (A formula used to begin a fairy tale.) Once upon a time, there were three bears. Once upon a time, I had a puppy of my own.
See also: once, time, upon

once upon a time

long ago I had worked for some big companies once upon a time, but later I was self-employed.
Usage notes: often used to begin a children's story: Once upon a time, in a far-off kingdom, there lived a beautiful princess.
See also: once, time, upon

once upon a time

  (literary)
1. a long time ago
Usage notes: This phrase is often used as a way of beginning children's stories.
Once upon a time there lived a young girl called Cinderella.
2. if you say that something happened once upon a time, you mean that it happened in the past and you wish that it still happened now Once upon a time, everyone knew each other in this town and nobody bothered locking their doors.
See also: once, time, upon

once upon a time

On some past occasion, as in I may have sung this piece once upon a time, but I don't really remember it. This phrase, first recorded in 1595, is frequently used as the opening line of fairy tales and stories told to children, as in Once upon a time there was a king who had three beautiful daughters.
See also: once, time, upon
References in classic literature ?
Micawber's affairs, although past their crisis, were very much involved by reason of a certain 'Deed', of which I used to hear a great deal, and which I suppose, now, to have been some former composition with his creditors, though I was so far from being clear about it then, that I am conscious of having confounded it with those demoniacal parchments which are held to have, once upon a time, obtained to a great extent in Germany.
ONCE upon a time he would not have acted thus; but characters differ.
Once upon a time old Lafferty had been caught with a gang that had stolen cows from several of the poor people of the neighborhood and butchered them in an old shanty back of the yards and sold them.
Once upon a time you had a certain amount of talent, and you were of a lively disposition, and your good looks were not to be despised.
Once upon a time Clennam had sat at that table taking no heed of anything but Flora; now the principal heed he took of Flora was to observe, against his will, that she was very fond of porter, that she combined a great deal of sherry with sentiment, and that if she were a little overgrown, it was upon substantial grounds.
said he of the Grove; "by the heaven that is above us I fought Don Quixote and overcame him and made him yield; and he is a man of tall stature, gaunt features, long, lank limbs, with hair turning grey, an aquiline nose rather hooked, and large black drooping moustaches; he does battle under the name of 'The Countenance,' and he has for squire a peasant called Sancho Panza; he presses the loins and rules the reins of a famous steed called Rocinante; and lastly, he has for the mistress of his will a certain Dulcinea del Toboso, once upon a time called Aldonza Lorenzo, just as I call mine Casildea de Vandalia because her name is Casilda and she is of Andalusia.
Your father used to be a very gallant young gentleman, once upon a time," said Mrs.