Last vs Past - What's the difference?

last | past |

As adjectives the difference between last and past

is that last is final, ultimate, coming after all others of its kind while past is having already happened; in the past; finished.

As adverbs the difference between last and past

is that last is most recently while past is in a direction that passes.

As nouns the difference between last and past

is that last is a tool for shaping or preserving the shape of shoes or last can be (obsolete) a burden; load; a cargo; freight while past is the period of time that has already happened, in contrast to the present and the future.

As a determiner last

is the (one) immediately before the present.

As a verb last

is to perform, carry out or last can be to shape with a last; to fasten or fit to a last; to place smoothly on a last.

As a preposition past is

beyond in place, quantity or time.



Etymology 1

From (etyl) (m), (m), syncopated variant of (m), from (etyl) latost, (m), , whence English (l).


  • Final, ultimate, coming after all others of its kind.
  • * , chapter=5
  • , title= The Mirror and the Lamp , passage=Then everybody once more knelt, and soon the blessing was pronounced. The choir and the clergy trooped out slowly, […], down the nave to the western door. […] At a seemingly immense distance the surpliced group stopped to say the last prayer.}}
  • Most recent, latest, last so far.
  • * {{quote-magazine, title=No hiding place
  • , date=2013-05-25, volume=407, issue=8837, page=74, magazine=(The Economist) citation , passage=In America alone, people spent $170 billion on “direct marketing”—junk mail of both the physical and electronic varieties—last year.}}
  • Farthest of all from a given quality, character, or condition; most unlikely, or least preferable.
  • He is the last person to be accused of theft.
  • Being the only one remaining of its class.
  • Supreme; highest in degree; utmost.
  • * R. Hall
  • Contending for principles of the last importance.
  • Lowest in rank or degree.
  • the last prize
    (Alexander Pope)
    * (final) at the end, caboose, final, tail end, terminal, ultimate * (most recent) latest, most recent
    Derived terms
    * last word * nice guys finish last


    (en determiner)
  • The (one) immediately before the present.
  • Last night the moon was full.
    We went there last year.
    Last Tuesday was Hallowe'en.
    Last time we talked about this was in January.
  • (of a, day of the week) Closest to seven days (one week) ago.
  • It's Wednesday, and the party was last Tuesday; that is, not yesterday, but eight days ago.
    Usage notes
    * (both senses) This cannot be used in past or future tense to refer to a time immediately before the subject matter. For example, one does not say or the like.


  • Most recently.
  • When we last met, he was based in Toronto.
  • * Shakespeare
  • How long is't now since last yourself and I / Were in a mask?
  • (sequence) after everything else; finally
  • I'll go last .
    last but not least
  • * Dryden
  • Pleased with his idol, he commends, admires, / Adores; and, last , the thing adored desires.
    * finally * lastly

    Etymology 2

    From (etyl) (m), from (etyl) .


    (en verb)
  • To perform, carry out.
  • (label) To endure, continue over time.
  • :
  • :
  • *
  • *:Thus the red damask curtains which now shut out the fog-laden, drizzling atmosphere of the Marylebone Road, had cost a mere song, and yet they might have been warranted to last another thirty years. A great bargain also had been the excellent Axminster carpet which covered the floor;.
  • (label) To hold out, continue undefeated or entire.
  • :
  • Synonyms
    * continue * endure * survive
    * disintegrate * dissipate * fall apart * wear out

    Etymology 3

    (etyl) .


    (wikipedia last) (en noun)
  • a tool for shaping or preserving the shape of shoes
  • * 2006, Newman, Cathy, Every Shoe Tells a Story , National Geographic (September, 2006), 83,
  • How is an in-your-face black leather thigh-high lace-up boot with a four-inch spike heel like a man's black calf lace-up oxford? They are both made on a last , the wood or plastic foot-shaped form that leather is stretched over and shaped to make a shoe.
    Derived terms


    (en verb)
  • To shape with a last; to fasten or fit to a last; to place smoothly on a last.
  • to last a boot

    Etymology 4

    From (etyl) last, from (etyl) , (etyl) last, (etyl) Last, (etyl) last, (etyl) lest.


    (en noun)
  • (obsolete) A burden; load; a cargo; freight.
  • (obsolete) A measure of weight or quantity, varying in designation depending on the goods concerned.
  • * 1624 , John Smith, Generall Historie , in Kupperman 1988, p. 114:
  • Now we so quietly followed our businesse, that in three moneths wee made three or foure Last of Tarre, Pitch, and Sope ashes [...].
  • * 1866 , James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England , Volume 1, page 169,
  • The last of wool is twelve sacks.
  • (obsolete) An old English (and Dutch) measure of the carrying capacity of a ship, equal to two tons.
  • * 1942 (1601) , T D Mutch, The First Discovery of Australia , page 14,
  • The tonnage of the of Harmensz's fleet is given as 25 and 30 lasten .
  • A load of some commodity with reference to its weight and commercial value.
  • Statistics




    (wikipedia past)


    (en noun)
  • The period of time that has already happened, in contrast to the present and the future.
  • a book about a time machine that can transport people back into the past
  • * D. Webster
  • The past , at least, is secure.
  • * Trench
  • The present is only intelligible in the light of the past , often a very remote past indeed.
  • (grammar) The past tense.
  • Derived terms

    (Terms derived from the noun "past") * blast from the past * in the past * past anterior * past continuous * past historic * past participle * past perfect * past progressive * past simple * past tense * simple past

    See also

    * preterite


    (en adjective)
  • Having already happened; in the past; finished.
  • * {{quote-book, year=1963, author=(Margery Allingham), title=(The China Governess)
  • , chapter=7 citation , passage=The highway to the East Coast which ran through the borough of Ebbfield had always been a main road and even now, despite the vast garages, the pylons and the gaily painted factory glasshouses which had sprung up beside it, there still remained an occasional trace of past cultures.}}
  • (postmodifier) Following expressions of time to indicate how long ago something happened; ago.
  • * 1999 , (George RR Martin), A Clash of Kings , Bantam 2011, p. 538:
  • That had been, what, three years past ?
  • * 2009 , , Glencoe , Amberley 2009, p. 20:
  • Some four decades past , as a boy, I had a chance encounter and conversation with the late W.A. Poucher [...].
  • Of a period of time: having just gone by; previous.
  • * {{quote-news, year=2012, date=April 23, work=(The Guardian), author=Angelique Chrisafis
  • , title=François Hollande on top but far right scores record result in French election citation , passage=Sarkozy's total will be seen as a personal failure. It is the first time an outgoing president has failed to win a first-round vote in the past 50 years and makes it harder for Sarkozy to regain momentum.}}
  • (grammar) Of a tense, expressing action that has already happened or a previously-existing state.
  • Adverb

    (en adverb)
  • in a direction that passes
  • I watched him walk past


    (English prepositions)
  • beyond in place, quantity or time
  • the room past mine
    count past twenty
    past midnight
  • * {{quote-news
  • , year=2012 , date=April 22 , author=Sam Sheringham , title=Liverpool 0-1 West Brom , work=BBC Sport citation , page= , passage=But they were stunned when Glen Johnson's error let in Peter Odemwingie to fire past Pepe Reina on 75 minutes.}}

    Usage notes

    * The preposition past is used to tell the time. The time 5:05 is said as five past five. 5:10 as ten past five. 5:15 as quarter past five. 5:20 as twenty past five. 5:25 as twenty-five past five. 5:30 as half past five. If we are aware of the approximate time, we can just use e.g. five past, ten past etc. See the example below. *: I thought it was about six o'clock, but it was actually ten past . * Compare with to (five to, ten to, quarter to, twenty to, twenty-five to) * See also: o'clock




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