What does while mean?

Definitions for while
ʰwaɪl, waɪlwhile

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word while.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. while, piece, spell, patchnoun

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

    "he was here for a little while"; "I need to rest for a piece"; "a spell of good weather"; "a patch of bad weather"


  1. whilenoun

    A certain duration of time, a period of time.

    He lectured for quite a long while.

  2. whileverb

    To pass (time) idly.

  3. whileconjunction

    During the same time that.

    He was sleeping while I was singing.

  4. whileconjunction


    This case, while interesting, is a bit frustrating.

  5. whileconjunction


  6. Etymology: hwil. Cognate with wil.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. While, Whiles, Whilstadverb

    Whiles is now out of use.

    Etymology: hwile , Saxon.

    Whiles I was protector,
    Pity was all the fault that was in me. William Shakespeare, Henry VI.

    What we have, we prize not to the worth,
    Whiles we enjoy it; but being lackt and lost,
    Why, then we rack the value. William Shakespeare.

    Repeated, while the sedentary earth
    Attains her end. John Milton.

    Use your memory, and you will sensibly experience a gradual improvement, while you take care not to over-load it. Isaac Watts, Logick.

    Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God, for your professed subjection unto the Gospel. 2 Cor. ix.

    Can he imagine that God sends forth an irresistible strength against some sins, whilst in others he permits men a power of repelling his grace? Decay of Piety.

  2. Whilenoun

    Time; space of time.

    Etymology: weil, German; hwile , Saxon.

    If my beauty be any thing, then let it obtain this much of you, that you will remain some while in this company, to ease your own travel and our solitariness. Philip Sidney.

    I have seen her rise from her bed, and again return to bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    One while we thought him innocent,
    And then w’ accus’d the consul. Ben Jonson, Catiline.

    I hope all ingenuous persons will advertise me fairly, if they think it worth their while, of what they dislike in it. Digby.

    Pausing a while, thus to herself she mus’d. John Milton.

    How couldst thou look for other, but that God should condemn thee for the doing of those things for which thine own conscience did condemn thee, all the while thou wast doing of them? John Tillotson.

    That which I have all this while been endeavouring to convince men to, is no other but what God himself doth particularly recommend. John Tillotson.

    Few, without the hope of another life, would think it worth their while to live above the allurements of sense. Francis Atterbury.

    What fate has disposed of the papers, ’tis not worth while to tell. John Locke.

  3. To Whileverb

    To loiter.

    Etymology: from the noun.

    Men guilty this way never have observed that the whiling time, the gathering together, and waiting a little before dinner, is the most aukwardly passed away of any. Spectator.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Whilenoun

    space of time, or continued duration, esp. when short; a time; as, one while we thought him innocent

  2. Whilenoun

    that which requires time; labor; pains

  3. Whileverb

    to cause to pass away pleasantly or without irksomeness or disgust; to spend or pass; -- usually followed by away

  4. Whileverb

    to loiter

  5. While

    during the time that; as long as; whilst; at the same time that; as, while I write, you sleep

  6. While

    hence, under which circumstances; in which case; though; whereas

  7. While

    until; till

  8. Etymology: [AS. hwl; akin to OS. hwl, hwla, OFries. hwle, D. wigl, G. weile, OHG. wla, hwla, hwl, Icel. hvla a bed, hvld 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. While

    "While" is a word in the English language that functions both as a noun and as a subordinating conjunction. Its meaning varies largely based on its intended function, position in the phrase and even the writer or speaker's regional dialect. As a conjunction, it is synonymous with the word "whilst", a form often considered archaic in American and Canadian English, as well as in some style guides on both sides of the Atlantic.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. While

    hwīl, n. a space of time: trouble spent.—adv. during the time that: at the same time that, as long as.—v.t. to cause to pass without irksomeness (with away).—conjs. While, Whilst, as long as: at the same time that: (Shak.) until; Whiles (B.), while, at the same time that.—adv. (Scot.) at times (orig. gen. of A.S. hwíl).—advs. Whī′lom, Whī′lome (Milt.), formerly, once (orig. dat. pl. of A.S. hwíl, time).—Every once in a while, now and then; The while (Shak.), in the meantime; The whilst (Shak.), while: in the meantime; Worth while, worth the trouble and time taken. [A.S. hwíl; Goth. hweila, Ger. weile.]

Editors Contribution

  1. while

    A period of known time.

    While at the shop we saw some new cheese we thought we'd try.

    Submitted by MaryC on March 19, 2020  

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'while' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #149

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'while' in Written Corpus Frequency: #554

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'while' in Nouns Frequency: #744

How to pronounce while?

How to say while in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of while in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of while in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Examples of while in a Sentence

  1. Simon MacAdam:

    While the latest data show that the recovery in the US is being supercharged by a combination of fiscal stimulus and relaxation of restrictions, for much of the rest of the world, vaccine setbacks and worsening virus outbreaks will delay economic recoveries, the surge in virus cases in India has grabbed attention in recent weeks, but infections are on the rise in most parts of the world, especially in emerging economies.

  2. Jerry Stahl:

    If you're here for four more years or four more weeks, you're here right now. I think when you're somewhere, you ought to be there. It's not about how long you stay in a place, it's about what you do while you're there, and when you go, is that place any better for your having been there

  3. Durham Sr.:

    My son just stayed quiet and had the guy’s change in his hand, [He] just stayed quiet while the other two was in confrontation.

  4. Med Jones:

    The challenge is that CEOs now think like global investors, while the political leadership thinks like local civil servants. Getting the right policies to attract and develop talented labor, capital and diversify the income sources will determine the prosperity and wealth of the people of each nation.

  5. Jeroen Dijsselbloem:

    That (calling a referendum) is a sad decision for Greece, it has closed the door on further talks while the door was still open, in my mind.

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Translations for while

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    living by preying on other animals especially by catching living prey
    • A. ravening
    • B. indiscernible
    • C. epidemic
    • D. contiguous

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