\ 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
: until


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 away while away the time

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For a while there, NFTs were going strong, with Bored Ape Yacht Club (pictures of sleazy humanoid monkeys) leading the way. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 13 May 2022 If the only formula that's available is gluten-free and your baby is not gluten intolerant, the gluten-free formula would be fine for a while, Kirkilas said. Stephanie Innes, The Arizona Republic, 13 May 2022 Scientists had known for a while that a black hole should, in certain circumstances, cast visible shadows. Seth Fletcher, Scientific American, 12 May 2022 They were tolerated in the notorious Female Dating Strategy subreddit for a while, but were later kicked out. Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, 12 May 2022 The economy will need to slow down for a while before the workforce and unemployment return to a normal level, said Tell. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 12 May 2022 There was nothing funny about the allegations, and Franken stepped away from the public eye for a while. James Sullivan, BostonGlobe.com, 11 May 2022 Nevertheless, Child Protective Services workers told Cox and Dobrozsi they must be supervised around their own children for a while and Dobrozsi's parents came to stay with them to provide that supervision. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 May 2022 These processors also support PCI Express 5.0, though there's not much of a point to it yet—current GPUs and SSDs don't use the new standard yet, and won't for a while. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 11 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The activity is in the Art Lab, which is brimming with other projects that will while away the time. Domenica Bongiovanni, The Indianapolis Star, 11 Mar. 2022 In the photos, Saweetie is shown lounging under a palm tree, taking a dip in the water, and enjoying food and beverages — as one should while on vacay, of course. Sara Miranda, Allure, 27 Dec. 2021 It’s one of the most beautiful places in Napa to while away an afternoon. Kim Westerman, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 In one viral photo, one person stands at the gas pump filling a red gas can while another tends to more cans in the back of a white vehicle. Rick Rouan, USA TODAY, 12 May 2021 In March, Sánchez was furloughed from Made Nice and began to while away quarantine by drafting a dream menu. Hannah Goldfield, The New Yorker, 2 Oct. 2020 Some have taken to baking to while away the hours during lockdown; others embraced gardening. BostonGlobe.com, 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, 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, 24 Sep. 2019 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near while




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Statistics for while

Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“While.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/while. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for while


\ 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on while

Nglish: Translation of while for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of while for Arabic Speakers


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