\ ˈ(h)wī(-ə)l How to pronounce while (audio) \

Definition of while

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : a period of time especially when short and marked by the occurrence of an action or a condition : time stay here for a while
2 : the time and effort used (as in the performance of an action) : trouble worth your while

Definition of while (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : during the time that take a nap while I'm out
b : as long as while there's life there's hope
2a : when on the other hand : whereas easy for an expert, while it is dangerous for a novice
b : in spite of the fact that : although while respected, he is not liked
3 : similarly and at the same time that while the book will be welcomed by scholars, it will make an immediate appeal to the general readerBritish Book News

Definition of while (Entry 3 of 4)

dialectal British


whiled; whiling

Definition of while (Entry 4 of 4)

transitive verb

: to cause to pass especially without boredom or in a pleasant manner usually used with awaywhile away the time

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Synonyms for while

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Conjunction

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Examples of while in a Sentence

Noun It took them a while to find out what was causing the problem. we stayed at the fair for a while longer Conjunction Someone called while you were out. You can get the photos developed while you wait. The phone rang while I was doing the dishes. They met while they were in college. Can I get you anything while I'm at the store? He made a comment that, while well-intentioned, still hurt my feelings. While I think some parts of the plan are good, I don't think it's practical.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But my brother was out here for a little while during quarantine, and his cooking skills are fantastic. Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY, "Chris Evans opens up about his new political site, 'Rocky' quarantine workouts and Finstas," 1 Aug. 2020 Coronavirus contact tracing has been underway in Ohio for a while. Laura Hancock, cleveland, "Ohio heads into the weekend with 1,533 new coronavirus cases: Friday update," 31 July 2020 Others have been around for a while and had to make little to no adjustments at all. Briana Rice, The Enquirer, "Socially distant patios and rooftops to visit this summer," 31 July 2020 For a while after the facility closed in mid-June, Winn and reliever Cole Uvila had to scavenge for fields since many parks in Arizona were closed. Dallas News, "Rangers prospect Cole Winn is stuck in a netherworld in baseball’s makeshift season," 31 July 2020 But for a while — especially through the 2017 campaign and into the winter — Singer to Detroit seemed like a lock. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, "Once projected to Detroit Tigers at No. 1, Royals' Brady Singer now faces them," 30 July 2020 Following the path set out for him by his father, Christian Dior studied political science; Pierre Balmain came to Paris to study architecture; Hubert de Givenchy, for a while, law. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Sasha Heinsaar’s Lockdown Knitting Project Takes Home Crafting to a New Level," 30 July 2020 But if OneWeb keeps Mr Musk on his toes even for a little while, their loss may turn out to be global consumers’ gain. The Economist, "Schumpeter Elon, Masa and Boris in low-Earth orbit," 11 July 2020 Any thunderstorms that occur will eventually rain themselves out, their cores collapsing — perhaps accompanied with strong or damaging wind gusts — after a little while. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, "Severe thunderstorm and flash flood watches issued for D.C. area through Monday evening," 6 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Some have taken to baking to while away the hours during lockdown; others embraced gardening. BostonGlobe.com, "Red Cross says 208 COVID-related attacks on health workers," 28 May 2020 Farvardin Daliri SYDNEY, Australia — Some have taken to baking to while away the hours during coronavirus lockdown; others embraced gardening. Isabella Kwai, New York Times, "Proud of Your Lockdown Baking? This Man Built a Giant Kookaburra," 28 May 2020 The restaurant, Trade Route, offers its own take on traditional southern cuisine, and the spa provides a refreshing way to while away an hour or two. Patti Nickell, chicagotribune.com, "Get a taste of the high life with a visit to Buckhead area of Atlanta," 24 Sep. 2019 What’s overlooked is Netflix’s extreme competence at making it easy to buy and while away a lazy afternoon. Shira Ovide, New York Times, "No, the Best Doesn’t Win," 27 Apr. 2020 Likewise, as middle-class Victorian women began to take up knitting as a hobby, the far more delicate and decorative work was deemed an appropriate way for upper-class women to while away their time. Sadhbh O'sullivan, refinery29.com, "Anything But Twee: How Hobbies From Period Dramas Got Cool Again," 4 May 2020 These were not the places in which the Detroit Tigers expected to while away their April hours. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "How Detroit Tigers survive pandemic: Hitting off a tee in Atlanta, playing 'Frozen' in Detroit," 23 Apr. 2020 The amateur who merely wants to while away long hours can easily feel inadequate to the task. The Economist, "Different strokes To see the world as it really is, try painting it in watercolours," 22 Apr. 2020 Gilles and Trostle thought of the The 24-Hour Sketch Battle to give kids and families around the world something do to while so many of us can't go to school or work due to COVID-19. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "Kids, families around the world design future Ram pickup," 14 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'while.' 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 while


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined above


1635, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for while


Middle English, from Old English hwīl; akin to Old High German hwīla time, Latin quies rest, quiet

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Time Traveler for while

Time Traveler

The first known use of while was before the 12th century

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Statistics for while

Last Updated

6 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“While.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/while. Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for while


How to pronounce while (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of while

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a period of time

English Language Learners Definition of while (Entry 2 of 2)

: during the time that
used to make a statement that describes how two people, groups, etc., are different
: in spite of the fact that
\ ˈhwīl How to pronounce while (audio) , ˈwīl \

Kids Definition of while

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : during the time that We met while in college.
2 : although sense 1 While famous, the book is seldom read.



Kids Definition of while (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a period of time Let's rest a while.
2 : time and effort used in doing something I'll make it worth your while to help out.


whiled; whiling

Kids Definition of while (Entry 3 of 3)

: to cause to pass especially in a pleasant way We whiled away the time with games.

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More from Merriam-Webster on while

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for while

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with while

Spanish Central: Translation of while

Nglish: Translation of while for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of while for Arabic Speakers

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