How is "from way back" used as an adverbial? Can it be used in a present-tense sentence? The following is an example sentence of "from way back" in the OED. Is it natural in contemporary English? If not, how does contemporary English differ from earlier English as regards "from way back"?

I dined and wined and toasted him from way back.

Here's the OED definition:

Long ago. from way back: from long ago; since long ago; (in extended use) through and through.

  • That's a usage citation from 1870, that seems to be translated from Virgil's original Latin "poem" (but it's "peculiar" in many ways; the preceding sentence is He don't exhibit one redeeming feature). So it was probably a bit unusual even when it was written. The next two citations are Mark Twain 1889 / 1892 where I tell you, he's an artist from way back! would be perfectly ordinary English even today. Basically, nothing much has changed. Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 11:45
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    ...and as you probably know, this exact issue has been extensively covered by thegrammarexchange a little while ago. Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 11:48
  • The Mark Twain example illustrates the adjectival usage. I'm interested in the adverbial usage.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 11:52
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    Imho, this is the definitive takeaway from thegrammarexchange... The fact is that [from way back] is inescapably somewhat informal, no matter what the sentence, and informal expressions are known for not being good targets of prescriptivistic grammatical rigidity. If that's what you want, you're barking up the wrong tree. Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 11:53
  • That comment is irrelevant as it doesn't describe what rule underlies the adverbial usage, except from it being informal.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 11:57


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