Definition of might-have-been in English:


Pronunciation /ˈmīd əv ˌbin/ /ˈmaɪd əv ˌbɪn/


  • A past possibility that no longer applies.

    • ‘fretting about might-have-beens won't get us anywhere’
    • ‘A subtle gesture, a quick flight into rage, that sassy line of dialogue - all these might-have-beens can keep bit-players from becoming stars, or stars becoming legends.’
    • ‘This opens up a lost world of might-have-beens.’
    • ‘But the shoulders have widened and the appetite for victory sharpened by a few years' reflection on the might-have-beens.’
    • ‘A letter from an old flame fluttered to the welcome mat this week, tinged with the rosy glow of nostalgia and giving off a faint melancholy whiff of might-have-beens.’
    • ‘You could say this was a match about might-have-beens.’
    • ‘Still, there are few might-have-beens that taste as good as this one.’
    • ‘The might-have-beens preoccupy us as a random natural disaster never can.’
    • ‘The other might-have-been concerns the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy.’
    • ‘Counterfactual history - the history of might-have-beens - then becomes much more than an exercise in subjective speculation.’
    • ‘He had his share of abandoned projects, what the author refers to as ‘Leonardo's might-have-beens.’’
    • ‘The main theme rounded out, speaking of loss, reminding of might-have-beens.’
    • ‘One is left to reflect on the many might-have-beens and the extreme narrowness between victory and a severe setback.’