Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A period of time: stay for a while; sang all the while. See Usage Note at awhile.
  • n. The time, effort, or trouble taken in doing something: The project wasn't worth my while.
  • conj. As long as; during the time that: It was lovely while it lasted.
  • conj. At the same time that; although: While the grandparents love the children, they are strict with them.
  • conj. Whereas; and: The soles are leather, while the uppers are canvas.
  • transitive v. To spend (time) idly or pleasantly: while the hours away.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A certain duration of time, a period of time.
  • conj. During the same time that.
  • conj. although
  • conj. until
  • v. To pass (time) idly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • conj. During the time that; as long as; whilst; at the same time that.
  • conj. Hence, under which circumstances; in which case; though; whereas.
  • n. Space of time, or continued duration, esp. when short; a time.
  • n. That which requires time; labor; pains.
  • prep. Until; till.
  • intransitive v. To loiter.
  • transitive v. To cause to pass away pleasantly or without irksomeness or disgust; to spend or pass; -- usually followed by away.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • During or in the time that; as long as.
  • At the same time that: often used adversatively.
  • Till; until.
  • Synonyms While, Though. While implies less of contrast in the parallel than though, sometimes, indeed, implying no contrast at all. Thus we say, “While I admire his bravery, I esteem his moderation;” but “though I admire his courage, I detest his cruelty.”
  • At times; sometimes; now and then: used in correlation as while … while. Compare whiles, adv.
  • To cause to pass; spend; consume; kill: said of time: usually followed by away.
  • To occupy the time of; busy; detain.
  • To pass; elapse, as time.
  • n. A time; a space of time; especially, a short space of time during which something happens or is to happen or be done.
  • n. Time spent upon anything; expenditure of time, and hence of pains or labor; trouble: as, to do it is not worth one's while.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English hwīl; see kweiə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English hwīl, from Proto-Germanic *hwīlō. Cognate with Low German wil. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Gibreel, with the Imam riding him like a carpet, swoops lower, and in the steaming night it looks as if the streets are alive, they seem to be writhing, like snakes; while in front of the palace of the Empress's defeat a new hill seems to be growing, _while we watch, baba, what's going on here?

    The Satanic Verses

  • Alexander, dum inter prīmōrēs pugnat, sagittā ictus est, _Alexander, while he was fighting in the van, was struck by an arrow_; dum haec geruntur, in fīnēs Venellōrum pervēnit, _while these things were being done, he arrived in the territory of the Venelli_.

    New Latin Grammar

  • "I do not know -- but someday you and all in the world will see it, when the Earth people are kind to each other -- not once in a while, but every day -- _all the while_ --"

    Half-Past Seven Stories

  • Even while we write, and for years back, a charge lies in the department of the Minister of Finance, against the present Premier of the Dominion, accusing that unscrupulous individual of conspiring with a whisky dealer, _while he himself was First Minister of the Crown_, to defraud the revenue -- a charge made by the present Assistant Commissioner of Customs and

    Ridgeway An Historical Romance of the Fenian Invasion of Canada

  • "Thou hast immanacled while Heaven sees good," he explains that "_while_ here has the sense of _so long as_."

    Among My Books Second Series

  • I. i.33 (231,5) [be better employ'd, and be nought a while] Warburton explained [ "be nought a while" as "a mischief on you"] If _be nought a while_ has the signification here given it, the reading may certainly stand; but till I learned its meaning from this note, I read,

    Notes to Shakespeare — Volume 01: Comedies

  • But I swear that she shall never marry him while I live, "he ended in a kind of shout and the domed and painted ceiling echoed back his words --" _while I live_ "after which the room was silent, save for the heavy thumping of his heart.

    A Yellow God: an Idol of Africa

  • The court, however, sentenced Tuncel to 10 1/2 years in prison for a separate crime, his role in a bombing a McDonald's restaurant in 2004 in Black Sea port city of Trabzon and ordered his release from prison since he already completed his term while awaiting a verdict.

    The Seattle Times

  • But when given the opportunity to use the term while sharing the stage with Romney during a debate Monday night in New Hampshire, he balked.

    Reggie Brown, Obama Impersonator, Yanked After Mocking Obama, GOP Candidates (VIDEO)

  • Harris, who discovered the label while pregnant with her second child, set out to create jeans that would fit her busy lifestyle as a mother of two.

    The Seattle Times

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