Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Having once been; former.
  • adverb At a past time; formerly.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • At times; by times.
  • Once; formerly; once upon a time.
  • While.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adverb Obs. or Poetic Formerly; once; of old; erewhile; at times.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adverb obsolete While.
  • adverb dated Once upon a time, formerly.
  • adjective now literary Former; sometime, late.
  • conjunction While.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, at times, from Old English hwīlum, dative pl. of hwīl, time, while; see kweiə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English hwīlum, dative plural of hwīl ‘while’.

Examples

  • On reaching the Place de la Révolution, her looks turned towards the Jardin National, whilom Tuileries; her face at that moment gave signs of lively emotion.

    Archive 2007-08-19

  • On reaching the Place de la Révolution, her looks turned towards the Jardin National, whilom Tuileries; her face at that moment gave signs of lively emotion.

    "Trial of Marie-Antoinette." by Thomas Carlyle

  • Excuse me therefore, dear Sir, that I cannot accept your invitation to the Liverpool Musical Festival, inasmuch as I cannot in any way think of wearying the public with my "whilom" piano-playing.

    Letters

  • The choice of phrases in Ballads and Songs, and perhaps more in serious pieces, is of much importance; a common use of old worn out words I do not like, such as erst, whilom, and a thousand more; and yet to take up and use

    Letter 94

  • Did not thy father's friends and whilom guests assist thee?

    The Phoenissae

  • Nay, 'tis that we-and this is most important-may dwell in comfort, instead of suffering want (for well I know that every whilom friend avoids the poor), and that I might rear my sons as doth befit my house; further, that I might be the father of brothers for the children thou hast borne, and raise these to the same high rank, uniting the family in one, - to my lasting bliss.

    Medea

  • On one shoulder was fixed the painted figure of an owl; and he bore in the right hand his pastoral staff, and in the left a small mirror having a handle to it, thus resembling a celebrated jester, whose adventures, translated into English, were whilom extremely popular, and which may still be procured in black letter, for about one sterling pound per leaf.

    The Abbot

  • Paradise enow moratorium nub aural whilom incessantly heliograph

    Language

  • Did not thy father's friends and whilom guests assist thee?

    The Phoenissae

  • Nay, 'tis that we-and this is most important-may dwell in comfort, instead of suffering want (for well I know that every whilom friend avoids the poor), and that I might rear my sons as doth befit my house; further, that I might be the father of brothers for the children thou hast borne, and raise these to the same high rank, uniting the family in one, - to my lasting bliss.

    Medea

Comments

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  • Erstwhile, quondam.

    Edit: you're right, Pro. Fixed. And thanks.

    November 18, 2007

  • Whilom, as tells the tale, was a walled cheaping-town hight Utterhay, which was builded in a bight of the land a little off the great highway which went from over the mountains to the sea.

    —opening of William Morris's The Water of the Wondrous Isles

    December 24, 2008

  • oroboros: erstwhile?

    February 4, 2009

  • "Lawrence Lessig, the whilom Special Master in the Justice Department's antitrust suit against Microsoft, complained that he had installed Internet Explorer on his computer, and in so doing, lost all of his bookmarks--his personal list of signposts that he used to navigate through the maze of the Internet."

    - "In the Beginning was the Command Line" by Neal Stephenson

    December 24, 2012