un·​til | \ ən-ˈtil How to pronounce until (audio) , -ˈtel; ˈən-ˌtil, -ˌtel, -tᵊl \

Definition of until

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 chiefly Scotland : to
2 used as a function word to indicate continuance (as of an action or condition) to a specified time stayed until morning
3 : before sense 2 not available until tomorrow we don't open until ten



Definition of until (Entry 2 of 2)

: up to the time that : up to such time as play continued until it got dark never able to relax until he took up fishing ran until she was breathless

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till, 'til, or 'till?

People often ask which is the correct synonym of until: till, ’til, or ’till?

Many assume that till is an abbreviated form of until. Actually, it is a distinctive word that existed in English at least a century before until, both as a preposition meaning “to” and a conjunction meaning “until.” It has seen continuous use in English since the 12th century and is a perfectly legitimate synonym of until.

’Til and ’till are much newer words, having appeared in the language only in the 19th and 20th centuries, respectively. Both are variant spellings, either of until or of till. Writers of usage guides have roundly condemned ’till as a barbarism (apparently because it seems to have added a superfluous l to the end of until). ’Til, for its part, has been deemed inappropriate in formal writing.

To sum up: until and till can be used freely and interchangeably, but you will probably want to avoid ’till and use ’til advisedly.

Examples of until in a Sentence

Conjunction We played until it got dark. Keep going until I tell you to stop. I ran until I was breathless. Stay here until the danger has passed. Stir the dough until it forms a ball.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Preposition Other lawmakers have until 5 p.m. June 8 to be added to the co-sponsor list. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9 June 2021 The first troops didn’t arrive on the scene for over three hours, until 5:20 p.m. al, 8 June 2021 National Guard troops didn’t arrive at the Capitol until around 5:20 p.m., and the report notes that the Defense Department and the Guard gave conflicting accounts of the delay. Alexa Corse, WSJ, 8 June 2021 The warning remains in effect until 7:45 p.m. Tuesday night. Alexis Oatman, cleveland, 8 June 2021 The eclipse will be visible from sunrise about 5:50 a.m. until 9:11 a.m. on June 10. Kyle Davidson, Detroit Free Press, 8 June 2021 This means most of the early evening temperatures will still be close to 90, and the thermometer won’t fall below 80 until close to 11 p.m. tonight. BostonGlobe.com, 7 June 2021 Build a couple thousand non-nuclear ballistic missiles and, in wartime, lob them at the bases until their runways, aprons, hangars, fuel tanks and warehouses are nothing but craters. David Axe, Forbes, 7 June 2021 Keller said 150 people, including residential and commercial customers in the area, lost power until about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. Washington Post, 6 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'until.' 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 until


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for until


Middle English, from un- (probably from Old Norse *und up to; akin to Old Norse unz up to, until, Old High German unt, Old English ende end) + til, till till

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Time Traveler for until

Time Traveler

The first known use of until was in the 13th century

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Statistics for until

Last Updated

10 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Until.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/until. Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for until



English Language Learners Definition of until

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: up to (a particular time)
used to indicate the time when something will happen, become true, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of until (Entry 2 of 2)

: up to the time or point that


un·​til | \ ən-ˈtil How to pronounce until (audio) \

Kids Definition of until

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: up to the time of I worked until noon.



Kids Definition of until (Entry 2 of 2)

: up to the time that Wait until I call.

More from Merriam-Webster on until

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for until

Nglish: Translation of until for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of until for Arabic Speakers


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