[ meen-hwahyl, -wahyl ]
/ ˈminˌʰwaɪl, -ˌwaɪl /
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See synonyms for: meanwhile / meanwhiles on Thesaurus.com

in the intervening time; during the interval.
at the same time: Meanwhile, the others were back home enjoying themselves.


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Origin of meanwhile

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at mean3, while
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does meanwhile mean?

Meanwhile means 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. 

It 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. 

Both of these senses of meanwhile are adverbs. As an adverb, meanwhile is often used at the beginning of a sentence to connect the statement that follows with something that was just mentioned.

The word meantime can also be used as an adverb in the same ways that meanwhile is, but meanwhile is much more commonly as an adverb.

Meanwhile can also be used as a noun meaning the period of time between two events, as in The power will come back on soon, so let’s just enjoy the quiet in the meanwhile. The word meantime is much more commonly used in this way.

Example: Mix the batter; meanwhile, preheat the oven.

Where does meanwhile come from?

The first records of meanwhile come from the 1300s. The mean in meanwhile is the sense of the word that means “occupying a middle position or an intermediate place.” When used as a noun, while means “a period or interval of time.”

Meanwhile 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. For example, Meanwhile… might be used as a caption in a comic or graphic novel to show that something is happening at the same time as what was shown in the previous panel. This is often used for comedic effect.

The expression meanwhile, back at the ranch is used as a humorous transition from one topic or discussion to another. It’s a reference to TV Westerns returning to the main setting (the ranch) to show what’s happening there after having shown action elsewhere.

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for meanwhile?

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


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

How is meanwhile used in real life?

Meanwhile is a very common word that can be used in all kinds of contexts. It’s usually used at the beginning of a sentence.


Try using meanwhile!

Is meanwhile used correctly in the following sentence? 

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

How to use meanwhile in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for meanwhile

/ (ˈmiːnˌwaɪl) /

during the intervening time or period
at the same time, esp in another place
another word for meantime
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