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 As Apple prepares to launch the new iPhone 13 family, the MacBook Pro will be taking a back seat until October when the new hardware will have a chance to shine. Ewan Spence, Forbes, 11 Sep. 2021 Samuel) White, secured the scene of the crime until HCSO and SLED investigators arrived. Kc Baker, PEOPLE.com, 10 Sep. 2021 And instead of making families wait until tax time to get the money, the government offered them immediate help: monthly payments of up to $300 per child for the remainder of the year. Yamil Berard, ajc, 10 Sep. 2021 Police and others assisted in corralling the bull for about an hour until another transport trailer arrived, Engelhart said. Jo Ciavaglia, USA TODAY, 8 Sep. 2021 Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire said park employees initiated first aid until paramedics arrived and determined the girl had died, according to The Associated Press. Jordan Freiman, CBS News, 8 Sep. 2021 Deputies treated the two victims on scene until an ambulance arrived and transported them to a hospital for treatment of serious injuries, said Lt. Chris Lawrence. Karen Kucher, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Sep. 2021 James stayed in the Philippines after the end of the war, until a boat arrived to bring the troops back to San Francisco. Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Sep. 2021 Workers performed first aid on the girl until emergency workers arrived, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 7 Sep. 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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Last Updated

14 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Until.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/until. Accessed 20 Sep. 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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