[ 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.
verb (used with object), whiled, whil·ing.
to cause (time) to pass, especially in some easy or pleasant manner (usually followed by away).
What’s The Difference Between “A While” And “Awhile”Few word pairs capture the idiosyncrasies ("peculiar characteristics") of the English language like a while and awhile do.
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 confusedwhile wile
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for while
/ (waɪl) /
conjunction Also: whilst (waɪlst)
(subordinating) at the same time thatplease light the fire while I'm cooking
(subordinating) all the time thatI stay inside while it's raining
(subordinating) in spite of the fact thatwhile I agree about his brilliance I still think he's rude
(coordinating) whereas; and in contrastflats are expensive, while houses are cheap
(subordinating; used with a gerund) during the activity ofwhile walking I often whistle
Scot and 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 timeonce 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 timehe was working the while
See also whiles
Word Origin for while
Old English hwīl; related to Old High German hwīla (German Weile), Gothic hveila, Latin quiēs peace, tranquīlus tranquil
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
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
Idioms and Phrases with while
In addition to the idioms beginning with while
- while away
- while back
- while there's life there's hope
- all the time (while)
- a while back
- every now and then (once in a while)
- fiddle while Rome burns
- get out while the getting is good
- in a while
- make hay while the sun shines
- once in a while
- quit while you're ahead
- strike while the iron's hot
- worth one's while
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.