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From Middle English yesterday, yisterday, ȝesterdai, ȝisterdai, from Old English ġiestrandæġ, ġister dæġ, ġestor dæġ, ġeostran dæġ, equivalent to yester- +‎ day; see there for more. Compare Scots ȝisterday, ȝesterday (yesterday), German gestriger Tag (yesterday), Gothic 𐌲𐌹𐍃𐍄𐍂𐌰𐌳𐌰𐌲𐌹𐍃 (gistradagis, tomorrow, adverb).



yesterday (plural yesterdays)

  1. The day immediately before today; one day ago.
    Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow.
    Yesterday was rainy, but by this morning it had begun to snow.
    • 1899, Hughes Mearns, Antigonish:
      Yesterday, upon the stair / I met a man who wasn’t there / He wasn’t there again today / I wish, I wish he’d go away …
  2. The (recent) past, often disparaging.
    yesterday's technology
    • 1606 William Shakespeare, Macbeth, 5.5
      All our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.
    • 2013 June 22, “Snakes and ladders”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 76:
      Risk is everywhere. From tabloid headlines insisting that coffee causes cancer (yesterday, of course, it cured it) to stern government warnings about alcohol and driving, the world is teeming with goblins. For each one there is a frighteningly precise measurement of just how likely it is to jump from the shadows and get you.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The term yesterdays is unusual and often poetic for the recent past, e.g. "all our yesterdays have come back to haunt us."

Derived terms[edit]



yesterday (not comparable)

  1. On the day before today
    I started to watch the video yesterday, but could only finish it this evening.
  2. As soon as possible
    I want this done yesterday!



Related terms[edit]


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