1

until

preposition un·til \ ən-ˈtil , -ˈtel ; ˈən-ˌtil , -ˌtel , -tᵊl \
Updated on: 10 Apr 2018

Definition of until

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 2
  • not available until tomorrow
  • we don't open until ten

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

2

until

conjunction

Definition of until

: 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

Examples of until in a Sentence

  1. We played until it got dark.

  2. Keep going until I tell you to stop.

  3. I ran until I was breathless.

  4. Stay here until the danger has passed.

  5. Stir the dough until it forms a ball.

First Known Use of until

14th century

in the meaning defined above

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UNTIL Defined for English Language Learners

until

Definition of until for English Language Learners

  • : up to (a particular time)

  • —used to indicate the time when something will happen, become true, etc.


until

Definition of until for English Language Learners

  • : up to the time or point that


UNTIL Defined for Kids

1

until

preposition un·til \ ən-ˈtil \

Definition of until for Students

: up to the time of
  • I worked until noon.

2

until

conjunction

Definition of until for Students

: up to the time that
  • Wait until I call.


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