Pass Time vs. Past Time vs. Pastime: What’s the Difference?

I have seen a few people mix these different spellings up in the past, so, assuming other people might have the same problem, I wanted to write a full post explaining the difference between each one.

What is the Difference Between Pass time, Past time, and Pastime?

In this post, I will compare pass time vs. past time vs. pastime. What is the difference between all of these spellings?

After reading this, you won’t ever be confused by them again.

Let’s get started.

When to Use Pass Time

define pastime definitionWhat does pass time mean? The definition of pass time is to spend time doing something. For example,

  • We were bored, so to pass time we played video games.
  • The elevator rap sung by eight University of Southern California offensive linemen passed the time while they were stuck inside. –Winston Salem Journal

Another common phrase to pass the time of day is defined as to exchange greetings or casual remarks.

Under both of these definitions, to pass time functions as a verb, which is important to remember.

When to Use Past Time

past time meaning of pastimeWhat does past time mean? When something is past time, it means it should have been done before now. A similar phrase is the phrase past due.

  • It is past time that we go get some pizza.
  • It is past time to turn in your report.
  • It is long past time for Congress to deliver the money needed to fight a virus that, if unchecked, could ruin thousands of young lives. –The Washington Post

In the phrase past time, past is acting as an adjective describing time. You are saying that it is beyond time that we get some pizza. It is past time.

When to Use Pastime

favorite past time definition of pass time What does pastime mean? The definition of pastime is an activity that someone does regularly for enjoyment outside of work; a hobby.

  • Baseball is America’s pastime.
  • His favorite pastimes were hunting and marksmanship.
  • The surprise is that Rumsfeld’s game is a test of strategy, based on a favorite pastime of Winston Churchill. –Time

The word pastime functions as a noun in the sentence, so it’s easy to spot. It will usually be the subject or direct object of a sentence or inside of a prepositional phrase.

Also, interestingly enough, pastime is not a truncated version of past time. In fact, it is a shortened version of pass time, which makes sense once you look at the definitions of each one of our above phrases.

  • Pass time = to spend time doing something.
  • Pass + time = pastime.
  • Pastime = an activity one spends their time doing.

In other words, pastime comes from pass + time, not from past + time.

Another common mistake is to misspell pastime as pasttime. This is a misspelling.

  • Pastime = correct.
  • Pasttime = incorrect.

Remember the Difference

Here’s are a few good tips to remember pastime vs. past time vs. pass time. First, you can remember this helpful mnemonic.

  • You pass time with your pastime.
  • It is past time that you do your pastime.

You can also know how to use each spelling by their functions in a sentence.

  • Pass time = verb.
  • Past time = adjective + noun.
  • Pastime = noun.


Is it pastime or pasttime? The word pastime is sometimes misspelled as pasttime, but these words are actually unrelated.

  • Pass Time means to spend time doing something.
  • Past Time means something should have been done already.
  • Pastime means an activity or hobby that one does.