Does the phrase then before, now once more have any meaning in English? Or does it exist just because it rhymes so nicely? Or does it exist at all?

Likewise, what about that time then, once again?

  • What makes you ask? Have you come across these phrases somewhere?
    – Rupe
    Jun 24, 2014 at 21:04
  • Rupe, yep - came across it in the captcha of a download and got a desire to get to the bottom of it since it had the kind of olden times aura about it like the nursery rhymes which often contain some wisdom one enjoys to reflect upon. (pardon my English - not a native speaker ..)
    – a_hanif
    Jun 24, 2014 at 22:03
  • Chenmunka, no, but it has a folklore flare about it, doesnt't it?
    – a_hanif
    Jun 24, 2014 at 22:09
  • @Chenmunka You forgot the -que conjunctive enclitic: Hic jacet Arthurus: Rex quondam rexque futurus. The once-and-future king.
    – tchrist
    Jun 25, 2014 at 3:59
  • They're from the Phish song Bouncing Around The Room. > Then before and now once more, I'm bouncing round the room > That time then and once again, I'm bouncing round the room youtube.com/watch?v=z5pWqBvBn2Y
    – user88833
    Aug 20, 2014 at 19:20

3 Answers 3


It does have some meaning. "Then" is clarified to mean "before," so it happened before. "Now" it is happening "once more." So it basically translates to "something that happened before is happening again."

Without a clear subject, it could also mean that the present is closely following something that happened in the past.

  • yes thanks. Is it a popular phrase in the English-speaking world?
    – a_hanif
    Jun 24, 2014 at 22:07
  • I have never heard it used outside of music enthusiasts quoting lyrics, so I would say no. It does have a nostalgic quality that would make it appropriate in certain circumstances, such as poetry with historical reference.
    – PixPrefect
    Jun 24, 2014 at 22:10

"then" was before you tried something for the first time. It is most often used as meaning something that you are nervous about doing, but it turns out the risk was worth the reward. "now" that you've done said thing, you want to do it again.


Being the notorious "neolog" (from "neolog*ist* rather than "neolog*ism*") that I am, I answer "yes": it has both meaning and exists. As previously noted, the individual words' meanings imply as stated: then (before), now (once more). So in a literal sense, the phrase means "then and now" as well as "before and once more". With no context other than: it exists as a "captchalogism", one may not determine if the author's intended emphasis is on the former (time) or the latter (a repeated occurrence in time past and present)...

...which brings me to usage. Ah yes, (smile), correct English usage, as varied as its roots, whether Canadian-, American-, British-, Australian-, or even Indian- and South African-English, as well as others; when it comes to phrasal verbs, idioms and poetry or prose (as opposed to correct "word" usage, like adapt vs. adopt, affect vs. effect, instill vs. install)...

anything goes.

Well, almost: many-a-misused word, then, before; does not necessarily a misused word, now, once again; imply.

Ain't that the truth?!

  • 1
    Does this add anything to the answer already given? Also, this isn't a discussion forum; it's a question and answer site. Please have a look at our help center section on answers. Thanks. Jun 25, 2014 at 3:54
  • I believe a neologue is something of a catalogue of neologisms, or their lexicographer.
    – tchrist
    Jun 25, 2014 at 4:01

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