Run Past: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
November 14, 2023

The phrase "run past" can mean physically running by something, briefly explaining or summarizing something, cursorily reviewing something, or inadvertently overlooking something by moving through it too fast. The key aspect is doing something rapidly or superficially without giving careful attention.

In short:

  • It means to pass someone or something while running.
  • It also means getting a quick review or approval from someone.

What Does "Run Past" Mean?

The phrase "run past" has two main meanings. It means running by something, like a jogger going by a house. Figuratively, it usually means giving a brief outline or summary. For example, you could ask a coworker to "run past" the main points of an upcoming meeting. The phrase can also mean skimming a presentation for a final check or summarizing the highlights of a party. At times, "run past" implies overlooking or forgetting details in a rush. For example, a manager might skip some steps while explaining new policies quickly.

Here are some key points:

  • You say "run past" when you want a quick check or feedback.
  • Literally, it means you're physically running by something or someone.
  • It suggests a quick or superficial approach, lacking detail or thoroughness.
  • Similar phrases might be "check with," "bounce off," or "get your take on."

Where Does "Run Past" Come From?

The word "run" has its roots in Old English and Proto-Germanic languages, where it primarily meant "to flow" or "to take flight." It has taken on various meanings, including moving quickly and executing a particular action. On the other hand, the word "past" originates from the late 13th century, derived from Old French and Vulgar Latin. It initially meant "to go by something" or "to cross over." The term has evolved to signify a point in time that has already occurred or a physical point that one has moved beyond. The specific phrase “run past” in its current usage, meaning to present something to someone for their opinion or approval, is a more recent development. It’s an idiomatic expression that has been widely adopted in English-speaking cultures.

Historical Example

"The only amusing thing is to see them run past the place where you are. They have races also with horses, which are ridden by little boys, who urge them on with incessant whipping...

- The complete works of Michael de Montaigne; tr. (ed.) by W. Hazlitt, 1842

10 Examples of "Run Past" in Sentences

To help you better understand this term, here are some examples in various situations:

  • As I run past the old school, I thought it might remind you of our childhood days.
  • Sarah needed to run her plans for the weekend past her parents.
  • The designer wanted to run the sketches past the client before finalizing them.
  • Mike thought he should run the document past his boss before sending it out.
  • While doing a bit of gardening, I saw a rabbit run past our yard.
  • Before signing the contract, they decided to run it past a lawyer.
  • She wanted to run the guest list past her fiance before sending out invitations.
  • Can I run a few things past you before the presentation?
  • Don’t let the competitors psych you out when they run past you during the race.
  •  I know I sound like a broken record, but please don’t run past the safety line at the construction site.

Examples of "Run Past" in Pop Culture

Let's see how this phrase shows up in the world of entertainment:

  • A quote from Mila Gray's Run Away With Me: "'Get in the car!' she shouts after me. 'I'm just setting the alarm.' 'Okay!' I shout back, but I don't get in the car. I run past it, past my sister, who is sitting in the back..."
  • From the book The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon: "I run past big concrete gardens of hard dirt and spiny-looking palm trees. I run past a little red car that has to stop for me."
  • The song Wave by Alpine Thrift contains the lyrics: "Run past, run past the waves you made on my heart / On my heart / On my heart."
  • The song Night Time by Paradoxx contains the lyrics: "Thoughts run past, I drive so fast they evaporate in an instant / I cleanse my mind from all the things I don't need.

Synonyms: Other Ways to Say "Run Past"

If you're looking for different ways to express the same thought, check these out:

  • Check with
  • Get your take on
  • Show it to you
  • Ask your opinion
  • Bounce it off you
  • Get your thoughts on
  • Consult you on
  • Get your view
  • See what you think
  • Get your feedback

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Run Past":

  • What does "run past" mean?

"Run past" has two main meanings. First, in a literal sense, it means to physically move quickly past a certain point. Second, in a figurative sense, it means to quickly show or tell someone about an idea, plan, or piece of work to get their opinion.

  • How can I use "run past" in a sentence?

You can use it as a verb phrase to either describe a physical action or to talk about getting someone's take on something. For example: "I need to run these plans past my boss" or "He ran past the finish line."

  • Is it more common in casual or formal settings?

The phrase can be used in both casual and formal settings. In a workplace, you might "run" a project idea "past" a manager. Casually, you might "run" plans for the weekend "past" a friend.

  • Does it work in written or spoken form?

Yes, "run past" can be used in both written and spoken form. Whether in emails asking for feedback or in casual conversation, it serves the same purpose.

  • How does "run past" differ from "show" or "tell"?

"Run past" often implies a quicker, less formal act of sharing for the purpose of getting feedback, whereas "show" or "tell" doesn't necessarily have the same urgency or need for response.

  • Is the phrase polite?

Generally, the phrase is considered polite, especially when asking for someone’s opinion or approval. As always, tone and context can affect how it's received.

  • Can "run past" be used in a literal sense to describe objects or only people?

In a literal sense, "run past" can describe both people and objects, like a river running past a city or a dog running past a fence.

  • Can it be used to describe a quick review of something?

Yes, in its figurative sense, "run past" can imply a quick review of an idea, project, or plan.

  • Is it an American phrase, or is it used worldwide?

"Run past" is widely understood, but it's more commonly used in American English.

  • Does using "run past" imply a need for approval?

It often does imply that you're seeking approval or feedback, but it can also simply mean you're sharing information.

Final Thoughts About "Run Past"

The phrase "run past" is a handy tool for quickly sharing something with someone to get their take on it. It can be used in all sorts of situations, from formal to casual, and it's good for people at any knowledge level.

Here's a quick recap:

  • It can be used for both sharing ideas and describing physical motion.
  • The phrase is polite and can fit into any type of conversation.
  • It implies a need for a quick review or feedback but can simply mean sharing info.
  • It's especially common in American English but understood worldwide.

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