[hwahylz, wahylz]


Chiefly Scot. at times.
Obsolete. in the meantime.


Archaic. while.

Nearby words

  1. while,
  2. while away,
  3. while back,
  4. while there's life there's hope,
  5. while there's life, there's hope,
  6. whilk,
  7. whillikers,
  8. whilom,
  9. whilst,
  10. whim

Origin of whiles

Middle English word dating back to 1175–1225; see origin at while, -s1


[hwahyl, wahyl]


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, whil·ing.

to cause (time) to pass, especially in some easy or pleasant manner (usually followed by away).

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

Examples from the Web for whiles

British Dictionary definitions for whiles



at times; occasionally


while; whilst


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

preposition, conjunction

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

Word Origin and History for whiles
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with whiles


In addition to the idioms beginning with while

  • while away
  • while back
  • while there's life there's hope

also see:

  • 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.