Blast from the past


What's the meaning of the phrase 'A blast from the past'?

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Something or someone that returns after a period of obscurity or absence. It is normally applied to things that that were thought fondly of previously and are making a welcome return – particularly pop songs.

What's the origin of the phrase 'A blast from the past'?

Used first by US radio DJs when introducing old records. It isn’t clear which DJ coined this, and no one lays especial claim to it. A strong contender has to be Jerry Blavat (‘The Geator with the Heater’). Blavat’s style was frantic and he was known for his impromptu ‘stream of consciousness’ verbal delivery. Here’s an example from an article about him in ‘The Progress’, a Pennsylvania newspaper, from 1967:

“Kings and queens, yon [sic] royal teens, this is your Geator with the Heater coming to you on Big-Tahm Tuesday where we rock the big tick- tock, where we got the class to beat the blast from the past”

The article began with a dictionary of ‘handy translations, straight from The Geator’, including:

Groove, blast – great
Golden Oldies – old rock ‘n roll songs

See other phrases that were coined in the USA.

Trend of blast from the past in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.