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  1. up to the time of; until: to fight till death.
  2. before (used in negative constructions): He did not come till today.
  3. near or at a specified time: till evening.
  4. Chiefly Midland, Southern, and Western U.S. before; to: It's ten till four on my watch.
  5. Scot. and North England.
    1. to.
    2. unto.
  1. to the time that or when; until.
  2. before (used in negative constructions).

Origin of till1

before 900; Middle English; Old English (north) til < Old Norse til to, akin to Old English till station, German Ziel goal. See till2

Usage note

Till1 and until are both old in the language and are interchangeable as both prepositions and conjunctions: It rained till (or until ) nearly midnight. The savannah remained brown and lifeless until (or till ) the rains began. Till is not a shortened form of until and is not spelled 'till. 'Til is usually considered a spelling error, though widely used in advertising: Open 'til ten.


verb (used with object)
  1. to labor, as by plowing or harrowing, upon (land) for the raising of crops; cultivate.
  2. to plow.
verb (used without object)
  1. to cultivate the soil.

Origin of till2

before 900; Middle English tilen, Old English tilian to strive after, get, till; cognate with Dutch telen to breed, cultivate, German zielen to aim at
Related formsmis·tilled, adjectiveun·tilled, adjectiveun·till·ing, adjectivewell-tilled, adjective


  1. a drawer, box, or the like, as in a shop or bank, in which money is kept.
  2. a drawer, tray, or the like, as in a cabinet or chest, for keeping valuables.
  3. an arrangement of drawers or pigeonholes, as on a desk top.

Origin of till3

1425–75; late Middle English tylle, noun use of tylle to draw, Old English -tyllan (in fortyllan to seduce); akin to Latin dolus trick, Greek dólos bait (for fish), any cunning contrivance, treachery


  1. Geology. glacial drift consisting of an unassorted mixture of clay, sand, gravel, and boulders.
  2. a stiff clay.

Origin of till4

First recorded in 1665–75; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for till

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Yes, dearest Philothea; but not till she had first told me of her own marriage with Geta.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Boy, they be not due to you till you be come to years of discretion.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • As for me, not a foot will I budge, till I have seen thee empty that bowl.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • She had her duty to perform, and she expected to be taken care of till it was done.

  • We did not get on it till we had travelled along the line about fifteen miles.

British Dictionary definitions for till


conjunction, preposition
  1. Also (not standard): 'til short for until
  2. Scot to; towards
  3. dialect in order thatcome here till I tell you

Word Origin

Old English til; related to Old Norse til to, Old High German zil goal, aim


Till is a variant of until that is acceptable at all levels of language. Until is, however, often preferred at the beginning of a sentence in formal writing: until his behaviour improves, he cannot become a member


verb (tr)
  1. to cultivate and work (land) for the raising of crops
  2. another word for plough
Derived Formstillable, adjectivetiller, noun

Word Origin

Old English tilian to try, obtain; related to Old Frisian tilia to obtain, Old Saxon tilōn to obtain, Old High German zilōn to hasten towards


  1. a box, case, or drawer into which the money taken from customers is put, now usually part of a cash register

Word Origin

C15 tylle, of obscure origin


  1. an unstratified glacial deposit consisting of rock fragments of various sizes. The most common is boulder clay

Word Origin

C17: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for till


"until," Old English til (Northumbrian), from Old Norse til "to, until," from Proto-Germanic *tilan (cf. Danish til, Old Frisian til "to, till," Gothic tils "convenient," German Ziel "limit, end, goal"). A common preposition in Scandinavian, probably originally the accusative case of a noun now lost except for Icelandic tili "scope," the noun used to express aim, direction, purpose (e.g. aldrtili "death," literally "end of life"). Also cf. German Ziel "end, limit, point aimed at, goal," and compare till (v.).


"cultivate (land)" (early 13c.), "plow" (late 14c.), from Old English tilian "tend, work at, get by labor," originally "strive after," related to till "fixed point, goal," and til "good, suitable," from Proto-Germanic *tilojanan (cf. Old Frisian tilia "to get, cultivate," Old Saxon tilian "to obtain," Middle Dutch, Dutch telen "to breed, raise, cultivate, cause," Old High German zilon "to strive," German zielen "to aim, strive"), from source of till (prep.). Related: Tilled; tilling.


"cashbox," mid-15c., from Anglo-French tylle "compartment," Old French tille "compartment, shelter on a ship," probably from Old Norse þilja "plank, floorboard," from Proto-Germanic *theljon. The other theory is that the word is from Middle English tillen "to draw," from Old English -tyllan (see toll (v.)), with a sense evolution as in drawer (see draw).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

till in Science


  1. An unstratified, unconsolidated mass of boulders, pebbles, sand, and mud deposited by the movement or melting of a glacier. The size and shape of the sediments that constitute till vary widely.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with till


In addition to the subsequent idioms beginning with till

also see:

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.