noun (1)
mean·​time | \ˈmēn-ˌtīm \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Luckily, your eyes should heal on their own if this happens to you, although self-care methods like putting a cold washcloth over your eyes and taking pain relievers may help in the meantime, the Cleveland Clinic says. Korin Miller, SELF, "5 Entirely Preventable Eye Injuries Doctors See Way Too Often," 1 Nov. 2018 But in the meantime, check out some top picks from the sale below. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "Stock Up Now: Wayfair's Holiday Decorations Are Up To 70 Percent Off," 25 Oct. 2018 And in the meantime, this merry music will be just the thing to hold you over. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "Hallmark's New Christmas Soundtrack Featuring LeAnn Rimes Will Make You Want to Jingle Bell Rock," 11 Oct. 2018 Copies are set to hit the shelves on September 18, but in the meantime, readers can find plenty of adventure in Where the Crawdads Sing. Kara Thompson, Town & Country, "Reese Witherspoon's September Book Club Pick Is "Painfully Beautiful"," 12 Sep. 2018 The saltwater, meantime, gets piped back into the ocean. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "The Brando Is the Ultimate Luxury Resort—But What It Really Wants to Do Is Save the Planet," 20 Sep. 2017 The plan is for Arcia to return to shortstop next season, but in the meantime the offense could use a second-half jolt. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Haudricourt: Brewers looking to go big with Manny Machado, who is an absolutely perfect fit," 13 July 2018 With Syrian patients, in Israel In the meantime, in the northern Israeli coastal town of Nahariya, the process of fostering new attitudes among Syrians continues. Dina Kraft, The Christian Science Monitor, "Syrian civil war, on Israel's doorstep, brings swirl of changing attitudes," 11 July 2018 In the meantime Britain will, in effect, stay in a customs union with the EU. The Economist, "Britain’s new Brexit plan is savaged—by its own Brexit secretary," 9 July 2018

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

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 In the mean time, Devers soldiers on in her efforts to make sure women authors are given their due and more widely read. Sari Botton, Longreads, "Balancing the Books," 15 June 2018 The last bit of Einstein’s time-bending ideas suggest that gravity also slows time, meaning time runs faster where gravity is weaker like the vast emptiness among massive celestial bodies like the Sun, Jupiter, and Earth. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "We Already Know How To Build a Time Machine," 28 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about meantime

Statistics for meantime

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for meantime

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for meantime


mean·​time | \ˈmēn-ˌtīm \

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


noxious or harmful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a-traditional-thanksgiving-dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!