1 of 2


un·​til ən-ˈtil How to pronounce until (audio)
chiefly Scotland : to
used as a function word to indicate continuance (as of an action or condition) to a specified time
stayed until morning
: before sense 2
not available until tomorrow
we don't open until ten


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

Did you know?

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.

Word History



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

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near until

Cite this Entry

“Until.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/until. Accessed 30 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 preposition
un·​til ən-ˌtil How to pronounce until (audio)
 in some contexts  ᵊn-,
 or  ᵊŋ-
: up to the time of
stayed until morning
: before sense 3
doesn't open until ten


2 of 2 conjunction
: up to the time that
played until it got dark
ran until I was breathless

More from Merriam-Webster on until

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