\ 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

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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 The fans embraced Tommy, the city embraced Tommy and the team embraced Tommy for a while. Jason Duaine Hahn, PEOPLE.com, 22 Sep. 2021 To be clear, the four-day workweek likely won’t likely be broadly implemented for a while in the States. Kenny Kane, Forbes, 22 Sep. 2021 And the pattern held through the next season until that night in late March, and McCarty pummeled Claude Lemieux, and the teams brawled, six-on-six for a while. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, 22 Sep. 2021 Things may seem very intense for a while, like the cosmic thermostat has gotten cranked up a few notches. Tarot Astrologers, chicagotribune.com, 22 Sep. 2021 Evergrande's troubles have been brewing for a while. Laura He, CNN, 21 Sep. 2021 Today Twitch sent an email to streamers detailing the terms of the deal, which has been rumored for a while — most recently in a report by Billboard published last week. Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2021 Many of these firms have been publishing the diversity statistics in their companies for a while. Aman Kidwai, Fortune, 21 Sep. 2021 If Sliwa and the Guardian Angels had been summoned; if they were needed — then the old days had definitely come back, at least for a while. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 20 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 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, 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, 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, 23 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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Dictionary Entries Near while




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Statistics for while

Last Updated

24 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“While.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/while. Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for while



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 : although


\ 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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