whi·​lom | \ ˈ(h)wī-ləm How to pronounce whilom (audio) \

Definition of whilom

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Definition of whilom (Entry 2 of 2)

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Synonyms for whilom

Synonyms: Adjective

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Whilom shares an ancestor with the word while. Both trace back to the Old English word hwil, meaning "time" or "while." In Old English hwilum was an adverb meaning "at times." This use passed into Middle English (with a variety of spellings, one of which was whilom), and in the 12th century the word acquired the meaning "formerly." The adverb's usage dwindled toward the end of the 19th century, and it has since been labeled archaic. The adjective first appeared on the scene in the 15th century, with the now-obsolete meaning "deceased," and by the 19th century it was being used with the meaning "former." It's a relatively uncommon word, but it does see occasional use.

Examples of whilom in a Sentence

Adjective pointedly ignored the whilom friends who had turned on her

First Known Use of whilom


12th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for whilom


Middle English, literally, at times, from Old English hwīlum, dative plural of hwīl time, while

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The first known use of whilom was in the 12th century

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Last Updated

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Whilom.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whilom. Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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