When we say "get back to the old times" it sounds like we mean go back in time with a time machine, but often it seems to be used figuratively? Is it one or the other, or something else (neither figurative or literal)? And when can we use it? I feel it means "be how we used to be", but I am not 100% sure, because it's not really an idiom, but an expression that's often used in casual speak.

  • 1
    I don’t know how we can take it literally, given that there aren’t any literal time machines.
    – J.R.
    Jan 8, 2019 at 2:20
  • You could take it literally if you don't really think hard about it. Anyway, what is the meaning of the phrase and is it commonly used, how idiomatic it is? I feel it's one of these non-sensical phrases that are commonly used, but will never become idiomatic, because of how non-sensical they are.
    – JJJJ
    Jan 8, 2019 at 2:23
  • I've never heard that exact set of words. Usually that idea is expressed as getting back to the way we were
    – Robusto
    Jan 8, 2019 at 2:51

1 Answer 1


"Get back to the old times" does not sound natural to me, but either way it would be meant to be taken figuratively, as in we need to get back to how things used to be.

"We need to get back to a time when life was simpler, when people knew how to treat each other with respect!" the old man grumbled from his front porch.

If you literally mean to travel to the past through a time machine, then the expression would be "go back in time" or a similar expression:

The classic 80s movie "Back to the Future" is about a teenage boy who travels back through time to save his parents' relationship, when they were also teenagers.

  • Yeah, thanks. I knew it didn't sound idiomatic.
    – JJJJ
    Jan 8, 2019 at 23:21

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