1

meantime

noun mean·time \ ˈmēn-ˌtīm \
|Updated on: 13 Jul 2018

Definition of meantime

: the time before something happens or before a specified period ends
  • The new computers won't arrive until next week, but we can continue to use the old ones in the meantime.

Recent Examples of meantime from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'meantime.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

meantime vs. meanwhile

Meantime and meanwhile have both been used as nouns in prepositional phrases like "in the meantime/meanwhile" since their earliest use in the 1300s. Both have been used as adverbs, like in "meanwhile/meantime, down at the farm…," since the late 1500s. They've been interchangeable for pretty much all of their long histories. But that doesn't mean they don't each have their favorite territory.

Meantime is the one that's usually used as a noun—that is, as the object of the preposition in phrases like "in the meantime" and "for the meantime":

We're headed to the beach this afternoon. In the meantime, I'm going to the grocery store.

And meanwhile is the usual choice for the role of adverb:

The kids are excited about the beach. Meanwhile, someone has to think about dinner.

But you'll see and hear examples that are counter to these generalizations, like the following:

In the meanwhile, someone should find the beach towels.

The baby is napping. Meantime, the older kids are looking for beach toys.

"In the meanwhile" has been accused of being "unidiomatic" (i.e. of sounding weird), but it isn't so unidiomatic that native speakers instinctively avoid it. If you use it, there's no reason you should stop.

But if you want to use this pair in the ways they're most often used and need help remembering which goes where, you can think of this sentence:

In the time it takes to say "in the meantime," you could just as well say "meanwhile."

First Known Use of meantime

14th century

in the meaning defined above

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2

meantime

adverb

Definition of meantime

: 2meanwhile
  • meantime he had been attentive to his other interests
  • —H. R. Warfel

Examples of meantime in a Sentence

  1. He can come back to work when he's feeling better. Meantime, he should be resting as much as possible.

Recent Examples of meantime from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'meantime.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of meantime

circa 1593

in the meaning defined above

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mean time

noun

Definition of mean time

: time that is based on the motion of the mean sun called also mean solar time

Recent Examples of mean time from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mean time.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of mean time

1751

in the meaning defined above

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MEANTIME Defined for Kids

1

meantime

noun mean·time \ ˈmēn-ˌtīm \

Definition of meantime for Students

1 : the time between events or points of time
  • You can play again but in the meantime rest.
2 : a time during which more than one thing is being done
  • He napped, and in the meantime I worked.

2

meantime

adverb

Definition of meantime for Students

: in the time between events or points of time or during which more than one thing is being done
  • She worked and meantime raised a family.


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