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 Try a few of these soon, and in the meantime, maybe rethink your priorities, just for today. Beth Segal, cleveland, "Homemade crackers 2.0: They’re not just for cheese boards anymore," 12 Feb. 2021 In the meantime, the younger Vassell has found a favorite steakhouse in La Cantera that has become his go-to for takeout. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "A different kind of rookie orientation for Spurs' Devin Vassell," 12 Feb. 2021 In the meantime, read up on some Mardi Gras history and find out how this purple, green, and gold bash started in the first place. Erin Cavoto, Country Living, "What's the History of Mardi Gras? Here's How the Pre-Lent Party Got Started," 12 Feb. 2021 The move could mean the administration will look to shutter the pipeline in the meantime and perhaps permanently if the Corps's environmental review makes that determination. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Biden's next big pipeline decision could deepen clash of greens and unions," 11 Feb. 2021 In the meantime, the Sunday shows are making do with those Republicans who will show up. Jason Zengerle, New York Times, "How the Trump Era Broke the Sunday-Morning News Show," 11 Feb. 2021 In the meantime, though, the recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominee is enjoying her newfound fame on social media, especially with the younger generations. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "A Series About Dionne Warwick's Life Is "in the Works"," 10 Feb. 2021 In the meantime, Andrews is leading webinars in COVID-19 prevention for the National Congress of American Indians, traveling to Washington to lobby Congress, and working to complete yet another grant application. Globe Staff,, "The Mashpee Wampanoag had long held COVID at bay. Then, tragedy struck," 10 Feb. 2021 In the meantime, though, Claudia is taking to TikTok to discuss the commercial and address those saying that the whole thing is a publicity stunt. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Claudia Conway's "American Idol" Audition is Finally Airing This Week," 9 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb In-person early voting, meantime, went from 17% to roughly 25% of all votes, according to those same sources. Ryan Teague Beckwith,, "Some GOP-Led States Defy Trump to Push for Expanded Voter Access," 16 Dec. 2020 The result in Pennsylvania, meantime, was as clear as a glass of old Lake Erie. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Trump and Biden Go to Election Overtime," 4 Nov. 2020 Coaches, meantime, are stuck between health protocols and explaining to teenage athletes why their once-in-a-lifetime senior season might not occur. Ron Kroichick,, "‘Recipe for disaster’: Why some Bay Area high school athletes left state to compete," 23 Dec. 2020 The Jets’ Adam Gase, meantime, is finishing up his fourth losing season in a row, including two with the Miami Dolphins. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Rams’ fall as 17-point favorite sent ex-Charger Hank Bauer back to 1979," 24 Dec. 2020 Advocates, meantime, continue to push to increase the number of transgender students in medical school. Endia Fontanez, The Arizona Republic, "Transgender patients face uphill battle for care amid discrimination, doctor shortage," 23 Dec. 2020 The nation’s November unemployment rate, meantime, may slip from a month earlier. Justin Carrigan,, "Litmus Test Awaits Emerging-Market Stocks After Seven-Week Rally," 20 Dec. 2020 The Trump administration has, meantime, placed most of its bets on vaccine development, while spending almost nothing to support vaccine distribution or build public trust. Maggie Fox, CNN, "The US is facing its darkest months yet in the pandemic, and the election may not help," 2 Nov. 2020 President Donald Trump, meantime, repeated his accusation that Pelosi is stalling before the election. David Westin,, "Pelosi Sees Post-Election Stimulus Possible, Before New Congress," 29 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the mean time, scientists have looked over the mutations present in the new viral strain and speculated on which ones could potentially be providing it with enhanced infectivity or altering the course of infections. John Timmer And Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "What we know about the new SARS strain that’s shutting down the UK," 21 Dec. 2020 In the mean time, other mutations are occurring and many new lineages are forming. Peter Fimrite,, "A new strain of the coronavirus is dominant now. Is it more contagious?," 30 July 2020 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

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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Learn More about meantime

Time Traveler for meantime

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for meantime

Last Updated

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Meantime.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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.

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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