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 timestayed 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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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

Cite this Entry

“Until.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/until. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for until

How to pronounce until (audio)

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on until

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for until

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with until

Spanish Central: Translation of until

Nglish: Translation of until for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of until for Arabic Speakers

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