time out of mind
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- (idiomatic) The distant past beyond anyone's memory.
- 1669, John Nievhoff, translated by John Ogilby, An Embassy from the Eaſt-India Company of the United Provinces, to the Grand Tartar Cham Emperour of China, London: John Macock, →OCLC, pages 4–5:
- But though this Kingdom of China doth often change its Lord and Name, the Chineſes however have time out of mind called it by two other particular names, as Chungchoa, and Chungque ; the firſt whereof ſignifies The Middle Kingdom ; and the other, the Middle Garden.
- 1904, Arthur Quiller-Couch, chapter 10, in Fort Amity:
- Harvests at Boisveyrac had been gathered under arms since time out of mind, with sentries posted far up the shore.
- 1905, William Butler Yeats, “Red Hanrahan's Curse,”, in Stories of Red Hanrahan:
- And on the yew that has been green from the times out of mind
By the Steep Place of the Strangers and the Gap of the Wind.
- (idiomatic) A lengthy duration of time, longer than is readily remembered.
- 1899, Frank Norris, chapter 1, in Blix:
- They were Episcopalians, and for time out of mind had rented a half-pew in the church of their denomination on California Street.
- (idiomatic, dated) For a lengthy period of time; on numerous occasions.
- 1599, William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet:
- Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut / Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub, / Time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers.
- 1782 May 7, Edmund Burke, Speech on a motion made in the House of Commons, the 7th of May 1782, for a committee to enquire into the state of the representation of the Commons in Parliament:
- Our constitution is a prescriptive constitution; it is a constitution, whose sole authority is, that it has existed time out of mind.
- 1853, Charles Dickens, chapter 1, in Bleak House:
- The very solicitors’ boys who have kept the wretched suitors at bay, by protesting time out of mind that Mr Chizzle, Mizzle, or otherwise was particularly engaged and had appointments until dinner, may have got an extra moral twist and shuffle into themselves out of Jarndyce and Jarndyce.
- 1882, George Bernard Shaw, chapter 13, in Cashel Byron's Profession:
- I tell you that Cashel never was beaten, although times out of mind it would have paid him better to lose than to win.