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

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, don’t hold me to any of the picks below come Tuesday afternoon. Justin Curto, Vulture, 23 Nov. 2021 In the meantime, the matter devolved into dueling press releases. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Nov. 2021 In the meantime the mystery of FRBs’ origins remains. Adam Mann, Scientific American, 22 Nov. 2021 In the meantime, the center has been operating out of a storefront on Station Street for the past seven years. Ed Wittenberg, cleveland, 21 Nov. 2021 In the meantime, the Spurs will also keep working toward making the ball go in the hole. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 21 Nov. 2021 In the meantime, camp infrastructure is steadily evolving to ease the long wait. Washington Post, 20 Nov. 2021 In the meantime, Tua is either hurt or protected by a sagging line, no running game, receivers who are as injured as their careers predicted and an offensive flow chart of coaching that a gumshoe detective is needed to unravel. Dave Hyde,, 20 Nov. 2021 In the meantime, local organizers, like Center on Halstead and Brave Space Alliance, are taking matters into their own hands. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 20 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Kaleb, meantime, will try to stay patient for his chance to play. Ron Kroichick, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 Nov. 2021 Ohio’s legislature, meantime, has revoked the $1.3 billion bailout. Ken Silverstein, Forbes, 15 Nov. 2021 The price to ship goods to U.S. customers on a 40-foot cargo container, meantime, more than tripled in July. Tom Krisher And Paul Wiseman, Anchorage Daily News, 15 Nov. 2021 The price to ship goods to U.S. customers on a 40-foot cargo container, meantime, more than tripled in July. Tom Krisher And Paul Wiseman,, 15 Nov. 2021 That means enforcing the city's stringent vaccine mandate, which requires that unvaccinated employees get immunized by December 18; meantime, unvaccinated workers must get tested twice weekly on their own time and dime. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 11 Nov. 2021 Twitter executives, meantime, logged 18 appearances. Abram Brown, Forbes, 25 Oct. 2021 The Bucs, meantime, moved into Cowboys territory 6 times, coming away with only 3 field goals. Joey Knight,, 26 Oct. 2021 Amazon Music Unlimited, meantime, is one of the best music streaming services available, and your three-month trial gets you unlimited listening to more than 75 million songs with no ads and unlimited skips. Tim Chan, Billboard, 25 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the mean time, the New York Times reported, some city leaders fear implementing local mandates will drive officers to leave departments that have already been crippled by mass departures, and at a time when gun violence is surging nationwide. Rebecca Lurye,, 19 Oct. 2021 But, in the mean time, Balbo said the department is requesting a 3-year lease on another building. Alexandra Kukulka,, 22 Sep. 2021 In the mean time, youngsters remaining on Houston’s roster don’t take the next step. Vincent Frank, Forbes, 2 Sep. 2021 And in the mean time, Tom Holt is taking over, assistant trainer, who’s done a really good job. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, 14 Aug. 2021 But for the mean time, this technology looks likely to give rise to reports of UFOs and those who know most are giving little away. David Hambling, Forbes, 6 July 2021 In the mean time, many internet users have coined their own mocking slogans. Jane Li, Quartz, 7 June 2021 In the mean time, one of -- one of President Trumps -- former President Trump’s top acolytes in the House, Matt Gaetz, facing a world of trouble. ABC News, 11 Apr. 2021 In the mean time, Hunt can reflect on his SMU career. Dallas News, 29 Mar. 2021

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near meantime

mean the world to (someone)


mean time

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Statistics for meantime

Last Updated

24 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Meantime.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for meantime



English Language Learners Definition of 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on meantime

Nglish: Translation of meantime for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of meantime for Arabic Speakers


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