Pastime, passtime, pastance….?

I know there are different ways of spelling one word…especially when it comes to the British/US versions (we’re separated by the same language, right?) but sometimes I come across a word that I have only ever seen spelled one way, yet it suddenly pops up with an extra “s”. In this instance the word is PASTIME. This article has the word in the heading as PASSTIME.

Now is it a genuine spelling of the word, or a typo? Most of those I’ve asked think it’s a typo, but it’s quite a whopper to have in one’s heading. My daughter drew my attention to this which discusses the word in general. Well, it discusses the various possible parts/tenses/nouns of the word.

If you go here you’ll find another interesting site about the pastimes of medieval children. Another friend pointed out that he’d found a curious variation here. In this the word PASTANCE crops up. I imagine it’d a 16th-century blend of the French “passer” and “temps”, which translates as, yes, “pastime”.

A third friend has drawn my attention to the words of Prince Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII, on the morning after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Apparently he remarked that “It is a good pastime to have a wife”. He is also alleged to have said “This night, I have been in the midst of Spain”.

Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon

Maybe Arthur said such things and maybe he didn’t – after all at that moment his old usurper of a father was anxious to promote his heir as a lusty, virile fellow. Good for the Tudor image. But perhaps the effort was too much for Arthur because he died not long afterward. Then, of course, it became undesirable for Arthur to have consummated his marriage, because (in order to avoid paying back dowries and such like) Henry VII decided to marry off poor Catherine to his younger son, the darling soon-to-be Henry VIII. Poor Catherine. I’ll bet at the time she was thankful not to be forced into marriage with odious old Henry. Little did she know what the future held.

Anyway, I digress. Opinions about PASTIME/PASSTIME please, ladies and gentlemen? And by the way, it seems to me from the castlesandmanorhouses site above, that if you were a medieval boy you did well for pastimes. However, if you were a girl, and didn’t like dolls…hard cheese!

from the Stoneleigh Triptych – portraits of the three children of the King of Spain



  1. American speller here: What you do to PASS time would be what? One would think, a passtime. You do not pas time. Yes, Spellcheck put a red line under ‘passtime,’ but the spelling ‘pastime’, while it may be ‘correct,’ is arbitrary and not logical.

    Liked by 2 people

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