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It's long past time he could have been educated out of this crap.

What does this sentence mean? Is it a common phrase?

I guess it may mean: "The time has long passed since he could have been weaned from this crap."

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  • It uneducated AmE speech. Or that is what is sounds like to me.
    – Lambie
    Jun 30, 2022 at 21:53
  • What exactly is the crap? Educated out of something is not a usual expression.
    – Lambie
    Jun 30, 2022 at 23:12
  • @Lambie by crap the person means some unpleasant things the other person has said.
    – Let
    Jul 1, 2022 at 10:06
  • Right, OK. So, to educate someone out of something is a thing I have never heard. It just sounds like a poorly expressed thought.
    – Lambie
    Jul 1, 2022 at 14:41

3 Answers 3

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If we say it is 'past time' for something to happen, we mean that it is overdue for that thing to happen. It should have happened by now.

It is past time for my son to go to sleep without a bedtime story. He is aged 34.

If we say something is long past time, we mean that it is very overdue.

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  • 2
    So it means "My son should have started going to bed without a bedtime story long ago. He is aged 34", doesn't it?
    – Let
    Jul 1, 2022 at 9:22
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I can see at least three idiomatic aspects of the sentence that might be puzzling, but you didn't say specifically which you were asking about:

  1. ...long past time...
  2. ...educated out of...
  3. ..crap

Your own explanation for 1 is perfectly fine. It means just what you say. Your explanation of 2 is OK, but it is itself idiomatic. And it's not necessarily even the best idiom; even in this figurative form, "weaning" carries slightly different connotations than "educated out of" does. And the fact that you did not attempt to explain the use of "crap" in 3, despite it clearly meaning something different from the literal sense, suggests that you already understand this usage too.

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The sentence

It's long past time he could have been educated out of this crap.

is in my view problematic at best, but not because of the usage of "long past time".

  • The phrase "long past time" is not usually used with "could have been". It might be used with "should have been" because it suggests what ought to have happened, but did not. but most often "long past time" is used with the simple past, such as "It is long past time that he dropped such notions." It can also be used with the simple present implying a future action that ought to occur, but has not yet occurred.

  • The phrase "educated out of" is sometimes used, but not so very often, and it doesn't sound quite natural to me.

  • The word" crap" is here used to mean "junk" or "nonsense". It is highly informal, but quite commonly used. But it does not in my view fit in tone with "long past time" which suggests a slightly more formal diction. Of course a speaker might do this as a deliberate contrast.

The original sentence could be rephrased as one of

  • It is long past time for him to drop such foolish and unpleasant notions.
  • It is long past time for him to have dropped such foolish and unpleasant notions.

or one of many similar sentences.

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