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Old English ane ((for) a) hwile (while)


  • IPA(key): /əˈwaɪl/, /əˈʍaɪl/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪl



awhile (not comparable)

  1. For some time; for a short time.
    Sit with me awhile.
    • c. 1596–97, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice[1], act 1, scene 1:
      [] Fare ye well awhile:
      I'll end my exhortation after dinner.
    • 1944 May and June, “When the Circle was Steam Operated”, in Railway Magazine, page 137:
      Engine No. 18 went off into a shed to rest awhile, and No. 7, a precisely similar one, backed on to the train in her place.
    • 1979, The Boomtown Rats (lyrics and music), “Wind Chill Factor (Minus Zero)”, in The Fine Art of Surfacing:
      I'll slip beneath these sheets and shiver here awhile / I find this happening more frequently these days
  2. (US, Pennsylvania Dutch English) In the meantime; during an implicit ongoing process.
    Can I get you a drink awhile?

Usage notes


Awhile to mean “for a while” is often considered incorrect to use with a preceding preposition, since one is already supposed: instead of “for awhile”, one should prefer either “for a while” or simply “awhile”. However, “awhile” as object for a preposition is used by renowned writers, is allowed by Merriam-Webster, and is consistent with how other adverbs of time and place are employed.

In Pennsylvania Dutch English, awhile is typically always used to convey such sense; the word is separated as “a while” for the first sense, whether preceded by a preposition or not. Compare “You may sit awhile” (inviting a person to sit while they are waiting) and “You may sit a while” (inviting them to sit for a length of time).






  • “'Awhile' vs. 'A While'”, in Merriam-Webster[2], archived from the original on 2023-10-17:Generally, the two-word form "a while" should be used when following a preposition ("I will read for a while"), or with the words ago or back ("a while ago/back").