Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of while
Meaning of while by Wiktionary Dictionary



    Old English hwīl. Cognate with Low German wil .


    • ( UK ) IPA: /ʍaɪl/, X-SAMPA: /WaIl/
    • ( US ) IPA: /waɪl/, X-SAMPA: /waIl/
    • Rhymes: -aɪl


    while ( uncountable )

    1. A certain duration of time, a period of time .
      He lectured for quite a long while .



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Explanation of while by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. a period of indeterminate length ( usually short ) marked by some action or condition

    2. he was here for a little while

    Definition of while by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. While n. [AS. hwīl; akin to OS. hwīl, hwīla, OFries. hwīle, D. wigl, G. weile, OHG. wīla, hwīla, hwīl, Icel. hvīla a bed, hvīld rest, Sw. hvila, Dan. hvile, Goth. hweila a time, and probably to L. quietus quiet, and perhaps to Gr. the proper time of season. √20. Cf. Quiet, Whilom.]
      1. Space of time, or continued duration, esp. when short; a time; as, “one while we thought him innocent”. “All this while.” Shak.

      This mighty queen may no while endure. Chaucer.

      [Some guest that] hath outside his welcome while,

      And tells the jest without the smile. Coleridge.

      I will go forth and breathe the air a while. Longfellow.

      2. That which requires time; labor; pains. [Obs.]

      Satan . . . cast him how he might quite her while. Chaucer.

      At whiles, at times; at intervals.

      And so on us at whiles it falls, to claim

      Powers that we dread. J. H. Newman.

      -- The while, The whiles, in or during the time that; meantime; while. Tennyson. -- Within a while, in a short time; soon. -- Worth while, worth the time which it requires; worth the time and pains; hence, worth the expense; as, it is not always worth while for a man to prosecute for small debts.

    2. While, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Whiled ; p. pr. & vb. n. Whiling.] To cause to pass away pleasantly or without irksomeness or disgust; to spend or pass; -- usually followed by away.

      The lovely lady whiled the hours away. Longfellow.

    3. While, v. i. To loiter. [R.] Spectator.

    4. While, conj.
      1. During the time that; as long as; whilst; at the same time that; as, “while I write, you sleep”. “While I have time and space.” Chaucer.

      Use your memory; you will sensibly experience a gradual improvement, while you take care not to overload it. I. Watts.

      2. Hence, under which circumstances; in which case; though; whereas.

      While as, While that, during or at the time that. [Obs.]

    5. While, prep. Until; till. [Obs. or Prov. Eng. & Scot.]

      I may be conveyed into your chamber;

      I'll lie under your bed while midnight. Beau. & Fl.