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


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

Meghan and Harry's household won't be officially set up until sometime this spring, and Kensington Palace will continue to support them in the meantime. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince William Reportedly Stepped In to Help Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Create Their Own Royal Household," 28 Mar. 2019 And in the meantime, relive the glory of season one at the link below. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Mindhunter Season 2: Everything We Know So Far," 19 Mar. 2019 Gold prices are down about a third from their 2011 peak to just under $1,300 per troy ounce; meantime mining costs have kept rising as the yellow metal gets trickier to find and dig up. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Bigger Gold Companies Still Aren’t Glitterati," 15 Jan. 2019 The temperature, meantime, is a hot but survivable 140° F (60° C). Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "Researchers Say Venus' Atmosphere Could Support Extraterrestrial Life," 2 Apr. 2018 In Washington, meantime, the Trump administration is pushing for legislation that would boost work requirements for food stamp recipients. kansascity, "Missouri GOP has chosen an election year to launch new attacks on the poor | The Kansas City Star," 21 Mar. 2018 Us, meantime, was left to pay more than $400 million a year in interest alone on its debts. Fortune, "Who Killed Geoffrey the Giraffe? Inside the Last Days of Toys 'R' Us," 16 Mar. 2018 The Padres’ return, meantime, is soaring onto the map after a rough start to the season. Jeff Sanders,, "Pedro Avila's strong finish in Fort Wayne," 17 Sep. 2017 If a year is too long to wait, in the meantime, assuage yourself with more writing from Ahern. Roar, a book of 30 short stories, bows April 16—and is already available for preorder. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "PS, I Love You, the Bestselling Book That Inspired a Hilary Swank Movie, Is Getting a Sequel," 13 Mar. 2019

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

Time spent on marketing is never wasted, and downtime means time to give your creativity free rein. Houston Chronicle, "Small-business Q&A: How to stay productive in slow times," 17 June 2018 The 34-year-old had insisted on playing outside of Europe to avoid the risk of playing against Barcelona, but the lure of Guardiola has seemingly halted any potential move to Asia or America for the mean time., "Report: Andres Iniesta to Replace Mikel Arteta at Manchester City," 19 May 2018 Intense interest in media assets and a soaring stock market mean Time Warner’s value could suffer less in the event of a court defeat. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "AT&T’s Dream Deal Hangs on Judge’s Decision," 11 June 2018 Theoretically, this means time set aside for the chief executive to take care of business outside of the constraints of formal meetings. Philip Bump, Washington Post, "Allow us to figure out just how much of your life is spent on Trump's 'executive time'," 8 Jan. 2018 And that means time is pretty much always of the essence. Kristen Flanagan, Glamour, "How to Know Whether That Mole Might Be Cancer," 16 May 2018 In the mean time, Ocasio-Cortez — give us the rest of your Top Shelf. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Uses This Contour Palette," 29 June 2018 That means time for family, friends and (gasp) even hobbies. Lainey Seyler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee was named the No. 10 worst city in the U.S. Here's why that's bunk," 13 June 2018 That could mean time for more pool parties at Casa Riley. Ira Winderman,, "Winderman: Heat swimming upstream this offseason | Commentary," 23 June 2018

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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Statistics for meantime

Last Updated

2 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for meantime

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

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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

Comments on meantime

What made you want to look up meantime? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a secret plot to overthrow a government

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