c. 1500, "times gone by, the time that has preceded the present," from past (adj.). Meaning "a past life, career, or history" is attested by 1836.
The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet,
The only sweet thing that is not also fleet.
[Edward Thomas, from "Early one morning"]
AMERICA does not repel the past, or what it has produced under its forms or amid other politics or the idea of castes or the old religions .... accepts the lesson with calmness ... is not so impatient as has been supposed that the slough still sticks to opinions and manners and literature while the life which served its requirements has passed into the new life of the new forms ... perceives that the corpse is slowly borne from the eating and sleeping rooms of the house ... perceives that it waits a little while in the door ... that it was fittest for its days ... that its action has descended to the stalwart and wellshaped heir who approaches ... and that he shall be fittest for his days. [Whitman, opening of the preface to "Leaves of Grass," 1855]
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. [George Santayana, "The Life of Reason," 1905]
[T]he past cannot be presented; we cannot know what we are not. [Thoreau]
The past is never dead. It's not even past. [Faulkner, "Requiem for a Nun," 1950]
early 14c., "done with, over, existing no more," a variant of passed, past participle of passen "go by" (see pass (v.)). Meaning "gone by, belonging to a time previous to this" is from mid-14c. The grammatical sense of "expressing past action or state" is from 1520s; past participle is recorded by 1775; past tense from 1650s. As a preposition, "beyond in time or position," c. 1300, from the adjective.
c. 1300, "land covered with vegetation suitable for grazing;" also "grass eaten by cattle or other animals," from Old French pasture "fodder, grass eaten by cattle" (12c., Modern French pâture), from Late Latin pastura "a feeding, grazing," from Latin pastus, past participle of pascere "to feed, graze," from PIE root *pa- "to feed." To be out to pasture in the figurative sense of "retired" is by 1945, from where horses were sent (ideally) after their active working life.
late 14c. (mid-13c. as a surname), "shepherd, one who has care of a flock or herd" (a sense now obsolete), also figurative, "spiritual guide, shepherd of souls, a Christian minister or clergyman," from Old French pastor, pastur "herdsman, shepherd" (12c.) and directly from Latin pastor "shepherd," from pastus, past participle of pascere "to lead to pasture, set to grazing, cause to eat," from PIE root *pa- "to feed; tend, guard, protect." Compare pasture.
The spiritual sense was in Church Latin (e.g. Gregory's "Cura Pastoralis"). The verb in the Christian sense is from 1872.
c. 1300 (mid-12c. as a surname), "dough for the making of bread or pastry," from Old French paste "dough, pastry" (13c., Modern French pâte), from Late Latin pasta "dough, pastry cake, paste" (see pasta). Meaning "glue mixture, dough used as a plaster seal" is attested from c. 1400; broader sense of "a composition just moist enough to be soft without liquefying" is by c. 1600. In reference to a kind of heavy glass made of ground quartz, etc., often used to imitate gems, by 1660s.
"musical composition from rustic tunes or representing pastoral scenes," 1724, from Italian pastorale, originally a variety of opera or cantata, noun use of an adjective, from Latin pastoralis "of herdsmen or shepherds" (see pastoral).
1530s, "grazing ground;" 1570s, "the business of feeding or grazing cattle," from Old French pasturage (13c, Modern French pâturage), from pasturer "to pasture" (see pasture (v.)). Middle English had pasturing (n.); late 14c.