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/ əˈgoʊ /
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gone; gone by; past (usually preceded by a noun): five days ago.
in past time; in the past: All this happened long ago.
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Origin of ago

before 1000; Middle English ago(n), Old English āgān, past participle of āgān to go by, pass, equivalent to ā-a-3 + gān to go1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does ago mean?

Ago means in the past.

It’s always used in combination with other words that indicate exactly or about how much time has passed since something happened—never by itself (you wouldn’t say That happened ago).

Examples of such phrases are three weeks ago, an hour ago, five days ago, long ago, and a long time ago.

Example: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ….

Where does ago come from?

Ago entered English long ago, before the year 1000. It comes from the Old English word āgān, meaning “to go by” or “to pass.” It uses the prefix a-, which is added to verbs to indicate the start or end of an action (as in arise). The go part comes from the same word that gave us the English verb go.

Ago is so common that we can take it for granted, but there’s no simpler way to say what it says. With just three letters, it acts as a time machine, taking us from the present to the past. How far back it takes us is determined by the words that it follows, from one second ago to billions of years ago to long, long ago.

Long ago is just one of the many common phrases that ago appears in, and it can also be used as a noun (as in In the long ago, we hunted and foraged for food) or a compound adjective (as in These monuments were built by long-ago civilizations).

Sometimes, ago is followed by the word today, as in nine years ago today, indicating that something happened exactly on this date nine years in the past.

Ago should not be confused with the noun phrase a go, as in The plan is a go (meaning that it has been approved) or Give it a go (meaning “try it”).

And, we’re sorry to point this out, but ago is one of those common words that starts to sound strange when you repeat it a bunch of times. Go on, give it a go.

Did you know … ?

What are some words that share a root or word element with ago

What are some words that often get used in discussing ago?

How is ago used in real life?

Ago is an extremely common word that’s used in all kinds of contexts.

Try using ago!

Is ago used correctly in the following sentence?

“You should stop living ago and start living in the present.”

How to use ago in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ago

/ (əˈɡəʊ) /

in the pastfive years ago; long ago

Word Origin for ago

C14 ago, from Old English āgān to pass away

usage for ago

The use of ago with since (it's ten years ago since he wrote the novel) is redundant and should be avoided: it is ten years since he wrote the novel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012