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 mean sun

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 But, in the meantime, state lawmakers who want the extra evening sunlight are preparing resolutions and bills, some of which would be triggered by congressional approval and the adoption of daylight time in surrounding states. NBC News, "Changing clocks is bad for your health, but which time to choose?," 16 Feb. 2020 The Times’ deputy editor of arts and entertainment, Alison Brower, in the meantime, hung out at a special event at the Getty that raised serious issues in a week that is more about parties. Los Angeles Times, "Essential Arts: L.A.'s art fairs are here. From Frieze to Felix, it’s #artmageddon," 15 Feb. 2020 An overloaded electrical circuit in Noah's bedroom started the blaze, Jamison told CNN. The family plans to stay at a motel or rent a small house in the meantime, Woods said. Kristin Lam, USA TODAY, "'Extraordinary' 5-year-old boy saves his sister, alerts family to Georgia house fire," 14 Feb. 2020 But strategists point out the South Carolina primary is more than two weeks away, and Biden’s momentum could continue to fizzle in the meantime. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "Can Biden bounce back?," 13 Feb. 2020 While tens of thousands more may get sick in the meantime, U.S. drugmakers are donating antiviral medicines that may fight the virus. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Pharma to the Rescue," 31 Jan. 2020 Disney fans eager for more footage from the upcoming live-action Mulan adaptation will have to wait a few days longer until the new trailer debuts on Super Bowl Sunday, but in the meantime, there is a new teaser to get your expectations up. Christian Holub,, "New action-packed Mulan teaser will get you hyped for Super Bowl trailer," 31 Jan. 2020 Almost all the 2020 action is in Iowa — but here’s what’s been happening in New Hampshire in the meantime. NBC News, "Senate Republicans appear ready to fall in line on impeachment vote despite earlier concerns," 30 Jan. 2020 And in the meantime, safe travels and bon appetit, y’all. Bob Carlton |, al, "44 more dishes to eat in Alabama before you die," 29 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb 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 Meantime, Europe and Japan leveraged their then-lower wage scales to compete increasingly with American production and American workers. Milton Ezrati, National Review, "Globalization Can Be Good for American Workers," 7 Aug. 2017 Meantime, even as the digital business grows and other platforms proliferate, the print magazine remains central to The Atlantic's rise and core to its future. Russell Berman, The Atlantic, "Emerson Collective To Acquire Majority Ownership of The Atlantic, Forming Partnership With David Bradley," 28 July 2017 Meantime, while Rahr is stoking a cultural revolution, Knezovich said, the state's training center is failing to drill down on basics. Dan Simon, CNN, "'Guardians of democracy': Police recruits learn to hold fire, empathize," 19 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the mean time, here’s hoping for more cute TikTok videos! De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Ross Lynch Makes TikTok Debut With “CAOS” Costar Jaz Sinclair," 18 Jan. 2020 Wilson’s season-ending knee injury means time is up. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "High school coach says new Kentucky quarterback Sawyer Smith is an 'incredible leader'," 10 Sep. 2019 In the mean time, some food carts have found new homes, while others remain in storage. oregonlive, "2019 in review: A year in Portland news," 30 Dec. 2019 There is a treatment that may slow the disease’s progression, meaning time is of the essence. Chicago Tribune Staff,, "Daywatch: Cash for teachers contract relies on risky assumptions, lessons learned from last winter’s polar vortex and other things to know about to start your day," 18 Nov. 2019 For many people, the holidays mean time for the movies. Sandie Angulo Chen, Washington Post, "For the holiday movie season, favorites return full force," 12 Nov. 2019 While Labor Day means time off work for many people, there are plenty of stores – including Walmart – that remain open on the holiday. Leada Gore |, al, "Labor Day 2019: Is Walmart open on Labor Day? Is Target open? Hours for Home Depot, Lowe’s," 2 Sep. 2019 Jin and Suga Went Fishing: Time on hiatus doesn't mean time away from one another! Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Everything BTS Has Been Up to During Their 'Rest' Period (So Far)," 21 Aug. 2019 In the mean time, people can also fill out comments on this form or call 855-463-6848 to voice their opinions. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "New Albany residents are divided on closing the Sherman Minton bridge for renovation," 25 July 2019

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

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Meantime.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 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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