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 Mesa police confirmed Washington pleaded guilty to a drive-by shooting in 2007 and spent 12 years in prison until he was released in October 2019. Perry Vandell, The Arizona Republic, 15 July 2021 Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes up clean, about 1 hour. Star Tribune, 14 July 2021 Norsk Hydro relied on pen and paper to track its manufacturing and finances for about three weeks until computer access could be restored, only partially, and for mission-critical work. Patrick Lucas Austin, Time, 14 July 2021 Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees. Washington Post, 14 July 2021 While city leaders and the union have agreed to a memorandum of understanding, the raises won’t be official until they are approved and added to the city budget. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 July 2021 Grill tomatoes until blistered all over, about 2 minutes. Meherwan Irani, WSJ, 14 July 2021 Lower heat to medium-low, add peppers and onion and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Carlos Matias, Bon Appétit, 14 July 2021 Such sales have been paused in Carroll County since July 1, when Hogan’s COVID-19 emergency order lapsed, until the county board could rule on the issue. Madison Bateman, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, 14 July 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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Learn More About until

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

16 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Until.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/until. Accessed 23 Jul. 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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