20 Other Ways to Say “Long Period of Time”

Other Ways to Say Long Period of Time

Expressing long period of time is a common way to describe durations that extend over a significant length.

It’s a fundamental concept in narratives, historical accounts, and daily conversations, often employed to emphasize the duration or historical significance of events, practices, or phenomena.

This article shows various alternative expressions that encapsulate the idea of a long time span.

Other Ways to Say “Long Period of Time”

Colloquial and Hyperbolic Expressions

1. For Donkey’s Years

Example: “We’ve been neighbors for donkey’s years, since we were knee-high to a grasshopper!”

Meaning: A quirky, very informal way of saying a really long time, often used to emphasize a friendly, nostalgic reminiscence.

Usage: Best used in casual conversations to reminisce about the past with a touch of humor.

2. Since Forever

Example: “I feel like I’ve known you since forever, we just click.”

Meaning: Hyperbolic way to suggest that something feels as if it has always existed or been the case in one’s memory.

Usage: Perfect for expressing a deep, long-standing familiarity or relationship in an informal setting.

3. Ages and Ages

Example: “I haven’t seen them in ages and ages; it must have been at least a decade.”

Meaning: A repetitive emphasis to convey a very long time, often used to highlight the speaker’s surprise or nostalgia.

Usage: Ideal for highlighting the surprise or impact of not having seen someone or something for a considerable time.

4. A Lifetime Ago

Example: “That summer vacation feels like a lifetime ago, so much has changed since then.”

Meaning: Suggests that the event happened so long ago it feels like it occurred in a different era of the speaker’s life.

Usage: Use this when reflecting on events that feel distant due to significant personal change or growth.

5. Till the Cows Come Home

Example: “You can wait for a clear answer from him till the cows come home, he’s always so vague.”

Meaning: An amusing way to imply that something could take an endlessly long time, often used in a context of frustration or jest.

Usage: Suitable for situations where you’re describing an indefinite wait or a process that seems never-ending, often with a playful tone.

6. An Eternity

Example: “Waiting for the concert tickets to go on sale felt like an eternity.”

Meaning: Used to dramatically emphasize how a duration felt much longer than it actually was, often due to anticipation or impatience.

Usage: Great for emphasizing the subjective feeling of time dragging, especially in anticipation or waiting periods.

7. Forever and a Day

Example: “We’ve been working on this project for forever and a day, but it’s finally coming together.”

Meaning: Exaggerates the length of time something has taken, often used to express a mix of exasperation and satisfaction.

Usage: Useful in situations where you want to stress the prolonged effort or time taken on a task, with a hint of relief or completion.

two friends hugging

8. A Hundred Years

Example: “It’s been a hundred years since we last caught up, how’s everything going?”

Meaning: Obviously exaggerating, this phrase humorously suggests a very long time has passed since an event or meeting.

Usage: Applies well to exaggerating the time since a last encounter or event, adding a humorous exaggeration to catch-ups or reunions.

9. From Way Back

Example: “We know each other from way back, since our sandbox days.”

Meaning: Indicates a long history or connection going back to early stages or periods in life, often used among friends.

Usage: This phrase is perfect for describing long-standing relationships or acquaintances that date back to early life phases.

10. Light Years Away

Example: “Back in high school, graduation seemed light years away, and now here we are.”

Meaning: While technically a measure of distance in astronomy, used here metaphorically to suggest a very long time, especially looking forward.

Usage: Ideal for reflecting on goals, events, or milestones that once seemed far off but have been reached or surpassed, often with a sense of achievement or nostalgia.

Historical and Timeless Duration

11. For Ages

Example: “The tradition has been observed for ages, uniting generations.”

Meaning: Suggests a very long time, often indefinite, emphasizing tradition or continuity.

Usage: Suitable for informal contexts or to emphasize historical continuity.

12. Since Time Immemorial

Example: “This land has been sacred since time immemorial, revered by all who dwell here.”

Meaning: Denotes a time so distant that it precedes written history or collective memory.

Usage: Best used for emphasizing ancient origins or timeless reverence.

13. For Generations

Example: “This craft has been passed down for generations, preserving family heritage.”

Meaning: Highlights the transmission of knowledge, values, or skills across multiple generations.

Usage: Appropriate for discussing family traditions, practices, or cultural heritage.

14. For Centuries

Example: “The castle has stood for centuries, witnessing the rise and fall of empires.”

Meaning: Specifies a duration of several hundred years, emphasizing durability and historical significance.

Usage: Ideal for historical contexts or when highlighting the antiquity of an object or tradition.

15. Throughout History

Example: Throughout history, humans have sought to explore and understand the cosmos.”

Meaning: Encompasses the entire span of human history, emphasizing a continuous or recurring theme.

Usage: Effective for broad historical overviews or discussing enduring human endeavors.

16. For Time Out of Mind

Example: “These stories have been told for time out of mind, enchanting listeners with ancient wisdom.”

Meaning: Similar to “since time immemorial,” it conveys the idea of something existing or being practiced long before living memory.

Usage: Suitable for folklore, traditions, or practices with ancient roots.

17. Across the Ages

Example: “This philosophy has resonated across the ages, influencing countless minds.”

Meaning: Suggests the enduring relevance or influence of something throughout different historical periods.

Usage: Effective in contexts emphasizing the timeless appeal or impact of an idea, work, or belief.

Gradual Change and Evolution

18. Over the Years

Example: Over the years, the city has transformed from a small town to a bustling metropolis.”

Meaning: Indicates a gradual process or change occurring throughout a considerable span of time.

Usage: Ideal for discussing changes, developments, or trends.

19. Through the Decades

Example: Through the decades, the organization has expanded its influence globally.”

Meaning: Refers to a period spanning several decades, emphasizing endurance or evolution over time.

Usage: Effective in formal or historical narratives focusing on substantial periods.

20. For Decades on End

Example: “The artist worked on the masterpiece for decades on end, perfecting every detail.”

Meaning: Emphasizes a prolonged period of effort, dedication, or development.

Usage: Good for highlighting the extent of commitment or the duration of a project or career.

20 Other Ways to Say Long Period of Time Infographic


Expanding our ways to articulate “long period of time” not only broadens our linguistic range but also enhances the precision and depth of our communication.

These alternatives invite us to explore the vastness of time with greater nuance and clarity, deepening our appreciation of history, tradition, and the inexorable march of time.

For historical meanings and the evolution of phrases you can visit oed.com and for more synonyms you can check out merriam-webster.com.

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