past history

past history

Bygone days. This cliché, widely used since the mid-nineteenth century, is a redundancy. History is the past; it can never be future or current. Nor does the adjective past really serve to emphasize. Nevertheless, the term was and continues to be used. John Ruskin used it in Praeterita (1886), “I was stupidly and heartlessly careless of the past history of my family,” as did James Grant in History of the Burgh and Parish Schools of Scotland (1876): “Mr. Innes . . . always entered enthusiastically into any proposal calculated to elucidate the past history of his native country.” It is heard less often today.
See also: history, past