[ meen-tahym ]
/ ˈminˌtaɪm /
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the intervening time: The party is Tuesday, but in the meantime I have to shop and prepare the food.


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Origin of meantime

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at mean3, time
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does meantime mean?

Meantime means the period of time between two events—between the current time and the time when something else happens.

This sense of the word is especially used in the phrase in the meantime, as in The power will come back on soon, so let’s just enjoy the quiet in the meantime. 

The word meanwhile can also be used as a noun to mean the same thing as meantime, but this is much less common.

Meanwhile is much more commonly used as an adverb meaning in or during the time between the current time and the time when something else happens, as in Our guests will arrive in about an hour—meanwhile, let’s get the food ready. Meanwhile can also mean at the same time, as in When I got to my apartment, I realized I had forgotten my key—meanwhile, everyone was already hiding inside for my surprise party. 

Meantime can also be used as an adverb in both of these ways, but it is much more commonly used as a noun.

Example: Our guests won’t arrive for another several hours, so I’m going to take a nap in the meantime.

Where does meantime come from?

The first records of meantime come from the 1300s. The mean in meantime is the sense of the word that means “occupying a middle position or an intermediate place.”

Meantime is often used in discussions that involve things happening or being done while waiting for something else to happen. It’s also commonly used in descriptions of events happening at the same time.

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What are some synonyms for meantime?

What are some words that share a root or word element with meantime


What are some words that often get used in discussing meantime?

How is meantime used in real life?

Meantime is a very common word that can be used in all kinds of contexts. It’s especially used in the phrase in the meantime. 



Try using meantime!

Is meantime used correctly in the following sentence? 

My younger sister just got engaged—meantime, I can’t even get a date!

How to use meantime in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for meantime (1 of 2)

/ (ˈmiːnˌtaɪm) /

the intervening time or period, as between events (esp in the phrase in the meantime)
another word for meanwhile

British Dictionary definitions for meantime (2 of 2)

mean time

mean solar time

the time, at a particular place, measured in terms of the passage of the mean sun; the timescale is not precisely constantSee mean solar day
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

Scientific definitions for meantime

mean time

Solar time as measured by the mean sun, resulting in equal 24-hour days throughout the year. If days were measured by the actual movement of the Sun, they would vary slightly in length at different times of the year due to differences in Earth's orbital speed and other factors. Mean time is the basis for standard clock time throughout most of the world. See more at solar time universal time.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.