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[hwahyl, wahyl] /ʰwaɪl, waɪl/
a period or interval of time:
to wait a long while; He arrived a short while ago.
Archaic. a particular time or occasion.
during or in the time that.
throughout the time that; as long as.
even though; although:
While she appreciated the honor, she could not accept the position.
at the same time that (showing an analogous or corresponding action):
The floor was strewn with books, while magazines covered the tables.
Archaic. until.
verb (used with object), whiled, whiling.
to cause (time) to pass, especially in some easy or pleasant manner (usually followed by away).
all the while, at or during this time; all along:
She realized all the while that the cake would fall.
worth one's while, worth one's time, trouble, or expense:
The art exhibition that opened yesterday isn't worth your while.
Origin of while
before 900; Middle English; Old English hwīl; cognate with Dutch wijl, German weile, Old Norse hvīla, Gothic hweila
Can be confused
while, wile. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for whiled
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He whiled away so much tejum there he darned near missed his train.

    Ruggles of Red Gap Harry Leon Wilson
  • Foils were brought, and we whiled away best part of an half-hour.

    The Suitors of Yvonne Raphael Sabatini
  • By the time two hours were whiled away the consul tired of reading.

  • Then we smoked a cigar on the pier, and so whiled away the time until eleven.

    The Motor Pirate George Sidney Paternoster
  • Well, Your Majesty, I'm glad anyhow that you butted in and whiled the time away.

  • Home, and whiled away some of the afternoon at home talking with my wife.

  • At the mess table a dozen or so whiled away the time at cards.

    The Puppet Crown Harold MacGrath
  • They whiled away their solitude by gossipy chattings over the wire.

  • With such observations I solaced myself and whiled away the time.

    A Top-Floor Idyl

    George van Schaick
British Dictionary definitions for whiled


(subordinating) at the same time that: please light the fire while I'm cooking
(subordinating) all the time that: I stay inside while it's raining
(subordinating) in spite of the fact that: while I agree about his brilliance I still think he's rude
(coordinating) whereas; and in contrast: flats are expensive, while houses are cheap
(subordinating; used with a gerund) during the activity of: while walking I often whistle
preposition, conjunction
(Scot & Northern English, dialect) another word for until you'll have to wait while Monday for these sheets, you'll never make any progress while you listen to me
(usually used in adverbial phrases) a period or interval of time: once in a long while
trouble or time (esp in the phrase worth one's while): it's hardly worth your while to begin work today
the while, at that time: he was working the while
See also whiles
Usage note
It was formerly considered incorrect to use while to mean in spite of the fact that or whereas, but these uses have now become acceptable
Word Origin
Old English hwīl; related to Old High German hwīla (German Weile), Gothic hveila, Latin quiēs peace, tranquīlustranquil
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
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Word Origin and History for whiled



"to cause (time) to pass without dullness, 1630s, earlier "to occupy or engage (someone or something) for a period of time" (c.1600), new formation from while (n.), not considered to be from Middle English hwulen "to have leisure," which is from a Germanic verb form of while (n.) (cf. German weilen "to stay, linger"). An association with phrases such as Shakespearean beguile the day, Latin diem decipere, French tromper le temps "has led to the substitution of WILE v by some modern writers" [OED] (see wile).



Old English hwile, accusative of hwil "a space of time," from Proto-Germanic *khwilo (cf. Old Saxon hwil, Old Frisian hwile, Old High German hwila, German Weile, Gothic hveila "space of time, while"), originally "rest" (cf. Old Norse hvila "bed," hvild "rest"), from PIE *qwi- "rest" (cf. Avestan shaitish "joy," Old Persian šiyatish "joy," Latin quies "rest, repose, quiet," Old Church Slavonic po-koji "rest"). Notion of "period of rest" became in Germanic "period of time."

Now largely superseded by time except in formulaic constructions (e.g. all the while). Middle English sense of "time spent in doing something" now only preserved in worthwhile and phrases such as worth (one's) while. As a conjunction (late Old English), it represents Old English þa hwile þe; form whiles is recorded from early 13c.; whilst is from late 14c., with excrescent -st as in amongst, amidst (see amid).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with whiled
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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