noun (1)
mean·​time | \ ˈmēn-ˌtīm How to pronounce meantime (audio) \

Definition of meantime

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: 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.



Definition of meantime (Entry 2 of 3)

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

mean time

noun (2)

Definition of mean time (Entry 3 of 3)

: time that is based on the motion of the theoretical mean sun To find local mean time, determine how many degrees of longitude you are from your time-zone standard. (Find your longitude on a map.) Multiply this number by four to get your correction in minutes. If you are east of the standard longitude your correction is a positive number; if you are west it is negative. Apply the correction to standard time to get your local mean time.Sky & Telescope

called also mean solar time

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Meantime vs. Meanwhile

Noun (1)

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."

Examples of meantime in a Sentence

Adverb He can come back to work when he's feeling better. Meantime, he should be resting as much as possible.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the meantime, the Groveland, Florida, resident decided to form a Facebook group to commiserate with other customers in monetary limbo. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "Their cruises were canceled months ago. These customers are still waiting on refunds.," 29 June 2020 In the meantime, the staff threw out all the clinic’s rabbit food and bedding, in case something in them had poisoned the three rabbits. Susan Orlean, The New Yorker, "The Rabbit Outbreak," 29 June 2020 In the meantime, the Global Goal special will air Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, hosted by Dwayne Johnson and featuring performances by Shakira, Coldplay, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, and more. Tyler Aquilina,, "Watch original Hamilton cast reunite to perform 'Helpless' with The Roots," 27 June 2020 In the meantime, protesters in Southern Indiana will continue to call attention to the case, Smith said. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "Protesters carry on in calls for justice for Malcolm Williams after death of his brother," 27 June 2020 In the meantime, there are a few other items that deserve your attention. Dominic Armato, The Arizona Republic, "Pizza doesn't have to be fancy to be good. This new metro Phoenix restaurant proves it," 27 June 2020 In the meantime, enjoy those two minutes without guilt or shame. Elizabeth Heath, Washington Post, "Go ahead and watch. Cute or funny animal videos can be good for you.," 26 June 2020 In the meantime, the NFL will get to sit back and watch as the NBA attempts its bubbled return and baseball tries to start. Dan Labbe, cleveland, "What does the canceled Hall of Fame Game mean for the NFL preseason?," 26 June 2020 In the meantime, another 17 states, led by California, intervened to defend the law, as did the House, now controlled by Democrats. Sheryl Gay Stolberg,, "Trump administration asks Supreme Court to strike down Affordable Care Act," 26 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Cathleen, meantime, said her body and mind have never been the same. Author: Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, "Trapped at sea, alone with her assailant, he told her, ‘You’re mine for the week’," 4 June 2020 Cathleen, meantime, said her body and mind have never been the same. Author: Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, "Trapped at sea, alone with her assailant, he told her, ‘You’re mine for the week’," 4 June 2020 Cathleen, meantime, said her body and mind have never been the same. Kyle Hopkins, ProPublica, "Trapped at Sea, Alone With Her Assailant, He Told Her “You’re Mine for the Week”," 4 June 2011 Meantime, Ogletree is continuing to prepare for the Sept. 10 opener against the Indianapolis Colts. Gary Klein,, "Rams middle linebacker Alec Ogletree still looking for that new deal," 24 Aug. 2017 Meantime, Latin American diplomats fear that Maduro’s opponents are now staying at home, waiting for a U.S. invasion. Patricia Mazzei, miamiherald, "In Miami, Pence will try to escape long shadow of Trump’s military talk on Venezuela," 22 Aug. 2017 Gormley finished fourth, followed by Senior Investment, Twisted Tom, Lookin At Lee, Meantime, J Boys Echo and Multiplier. Michael Democker,, "Wiener Dog Racing at the Fair Grounds: photo gallery & video," 19 Aug. 2017 Meantime, Pence has scheduled other stops in Argentina, Chile and Panama, giving speeches and meeting with leaders. Washington Post, "Venezuela expected to dominate Pence’s Latin American trip," 13 Aug. 2017 Meantime, Stroud’s phone was positively blowing up. Mike Purkey, charlotteobserver, "‘Foggy dream’ carries unlikely contender into final round a shot back at Quail Hollow," 12 Aug. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun To help pay rent and utilities in the mean time, Tompkins is making the theater available to rent for receptions, businesses and more. Domenica Bongiovanni, The Indianapolis Star, "Museums are ready to reopen, but concerts and theaters face uncertainty," 24 Apr. 2020 The men on set believe that if one woman lied, that means all women lied, and now that means Time's Up is over. Shannon Carlin,, "How Many Endings Can You Get In The Bandersnatch-Style Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Special?," 13 May 2020 For many outdoorsmen and women, that means time spent in bear country. Joe Genzel, Outdoor Life, "The Newbie’s Guide to Survival in Bear Country," 17 Apr. 2020 In the mean time, Dykes is busy trying to run a program, and everything that comes with it, pretty much completely over Zoom and FaceTime. Sam Blum, Dallas News, "SMU coach Sonny Dykes breaks down how program has handled coronavirus crisis, thoughts on football season," 10 May 2020 Last year, a tight game like Sunday’s would have meant time for All-Americans Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier to take over. Alex Putterman,, "Christyn Williams delivers all-around performance to fuel stilted UConn offense," 10 Nov. 2019 The National Football League, meanwhile, is not scheduled to hold real games until September, but the Florida ruling could bring preseason play back to the state in the mean time. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "Florida deemed WWE an “essential service,” opening the door for actual sports to return, too," 14 Apr. 2020 In the mean time, the governor herself has restricted her travel and interpersonal contacts. The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Coronavirus in Oregon (March 21): Governor says ‘storm is coming,' more restrictions likely," 21 Mar. 2020 In the mean time, Goodman said the Arts Council will be flexible with and try to accelerate the timeline for its Annual Grants Program. Domenica Bongiovanni, Indianapolis Star, "The $440 million nonprofit arts industry expects major damage. Here's how to help.," 19 Mar. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of meantime

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above


circa 1593, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1751, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for meantime

Time Traveler

The first known use of meantime was in the 14th century

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Statistics for meantime

Last Updated

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Meantime.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for meantime


mean·​time | \ ˈmēn-ˌtīm How to pronounce meantime (audio) \

Kids Definition of meantime

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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.



Kids Definition of meantime (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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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More from Merriam-Webster on meantime

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with meantime

Spanish Central: Translation of meantime

Nglish: Translation of meantime for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of meantime for Arabic Speakers

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