while

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English[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:
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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English while, from Old English hwīl, from Proto-West Germanic *hwīlu, from Proto-Germanic *hwīlō (compare Dutch wijl, Low German Wiel, German Weile, Danish hvile (rest), Norwegian Bokmål hvile (rest)), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷyeh₁- (to rest). Cognate with Albanian sillë (breakfast), Latin tranquillus, Sanskrit चिर (cirá), Persian شاد(šād).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

while (plural (archaic or informal) whiles)

  1. An uncertain duration of time, a period of time.
    He lectured for quite a long while.
    It’s a long while since anyone lived there, so it’s a ruin now.
    • 1857, Charles Kingsley, [Letters and Memories]:
      Do the good that's nearest Though it's dull at whiles.
    • 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson, chapter 22, in Kidnapped, page 158:
      There are whiles [] when ye are altogether too canny and Whiggish to be company for a gentleman like me.
    • 2017, Anne Thériault, “The Monster Book of Questions and Answers”, in Kelly Jensen, editor, Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, Algonquin Young Readers, page 27:
      Things were pretty dark for a while — several whiles, actually.

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Conjunction[edit]

while

  1. During the same time that.
    He was sleeping while I was singing.
    Driving while intoxicated is against the law.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 12, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      While the powwow was going on the big woman came back again. She was consider'ble rumpled and scratched up, but there was fire in her eye.
    • 1948, Carey McWilliams, North from Mexico / The Spanish-Speaking People of The United States, J. B. Lippincott Company, page 25,
      While De Anza was exploring the Bay of San Francisco, seeking a site for the presidio, the American colonists on the eastern seaboard, three thousand miles away, were celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
    • 2013 June 7, David Simpson, “Fantasy of navigation”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 36:
      Like most human activities, ballooning has sponsored heroes and hucksters and a good deal in between. For every dedicated scientist patiently recording atmospheric pressure and wind speed while shivering at high altitudes, there is a carnival barker with a bevy of pretty girls willing to dangle from a basket or parachute down to earth.
  2. Although.
    This case, while interesting, is a bit frustrating.
    While I would love to help, I am very busy at the moment.
  3. (Northern England, Scotland) Until.
    I'll wait while you've finished painting.
  4. As long as.
    While you're at school you may live at home.
    • 1725, Isaac Watts, Logick, or The Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry After Truth With a Variety of Rules to Guard:
      Use your memory; you will sensibly experience a gradual improvement, while you take care not to load it to excess.
  5. (media, public policy) Used to denote an individual experiencing racial profiling when performing a seemingly benign activity.
    He was detained for four hours at the store yesterday. His crime? Shopping while black.
    • 2016 November 7, Michael T. Luongo, “Traveling While Muslim Complicates Air Travel”, in The New York Times[1]:
      Ms. Syed, along with many of her American Muslim friends and Islamic-rights advocates, is all too familiar with what many refer to as the stigma of traveling while Muslim.
    • 2019 March 8, Tom Perkins, “'Gardening while black': lawsuit targets white accusers over 'outrageous' claims”, in The Guardian[2]:
      He added that the case took an emotional toll and left him humiliated by the accusations when, in fact, all he had been doing was "gardening while black".

Usage notes[edit]

Synonyms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Preposition[edit]

while

  1. (Northern England, Scotland) Until.

Verb[edit]

while (third-person singular simple present whiles, present participle whiling, simple past and past participle whiled)

  1. (transitive, now only in combination with away; see also while away) To pass (time) idly.
    I whiled away the hours whilst waiting for him to arrive
    Synonyms: idle, laze, lounge
    • 1839, Robert Folkestone Williams, The Youth of Shakespeare, page 184 [3]
      Some were whiling the time by admiring the figures on the cloth of tissue.
    • 1863 November 23, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Student’s Tale. The Falcon of Ser Federigo.”, in Tales of a Wayside Inn, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor and Fields, OCLC 840321886, page 35:
      Here in seclusion, as a widow may, / The lovely lady whiled the hours away, []
    • 2018, Shukla Lal, Floating Logs:
      As if she was just whiling her time with them until his arrival.
  2. (transitive) To occupy or entertain (someone) in order to let time pass.
    • 1588, Samuel Purchas, Hakluytus Posthumus or, Purchas his Pilgrimes:
      They whiled them with such answere as suted to their purposes, and long adoe was made in weaving and unweaving Penelopes web, till the Spanish Armada was upon the Coast, and the very Ordnance proclaimed in their eares a surcease from further illusions.
    • 1907, Barbara Baynton, Sally Krimmer; Alan Lawson, editors, Human Toll (Portable Australian Authors: Barbara Baynton), St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, published 1980, page 130:
      He sat her on the corner of the carpenter's bench, and parried or diverted her questions about her father, and the desirability of wakening him by handing her the long curled shavings; and when these palled, he whiled her on by the impossible task of teaching him her version of the 'Three Golden Balls' a blank-verse poem, but rhythmically intoned, which he had taught her.
    • 2010, Dr Rudolf Steiner, Truth-Wrought-Words:
      In other worlds I whiled me now Through many a dark night long.
    • 2018, Michael Joyce, Yada:
      Like a good father, he whiled him with stories about the past of his nation and discussed in detail the intricacies of his profession, teaching the child secrets of the craft that had been passed from generation to generation.
  3. (intransitive, archaic) To elapse, to pass.
    • 1764, Mrs. Gunning (Susannah), Family Pictures, a Novel. Containing Curious and Interesting Memoirs of Several Persons of Fashion in W-----re, page 115:
      The tedious hours whiled slowly on, 'till the succeeding afternoon, when the expected carriage made its appearance much sooner than they had promised themselves.
    • 1901, Thomas Hardy, “A Man”, in Poems of the Past and the Present:
      Years whiled. He aged, sank, sickened; and was not: / And it was said, 'A man intractable / And curst is gone.'
  4. Alternative spelling or misspelling of wile.
    • 1842, “Letters from Italy: No. 1 —Nice”, in The Dublin University Magazine, volume 19, page 47:
      There it lies before me sparkling in the sun, whiling me as it often does from my pen or book to gaze upon its loveliness.
    • 1860, The Knickerbacker - Volume 56, page 593:
      Perhaps the coziness of his seat, and the absence of the sun's rays from the side of the house where he was seated, had some agency in whiling him into a delicious sleep;
    • 1880, Ann Bagwill Cuming, Night Thoughts and Day Dreams, page 10:
      Upon the shelf before me stands, The Book that lured to distant Lands, That prompt my boyish wish to roam, And whiled me from my childhood's home.
    • 1900, Christian Work: Illustrated Family Newspaper - Volume 68, page 38:
      “Do not let us go near them," he says in a cajoling, low voice to Bertha, whiling her away into the sun and the flowers;
    • 2020, George Payne Rainsford James, Agincourt: A Romance:
      He whiled him on to speak farther; but the same cloud was still upon Sir Henry Dacre's mind.

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  • while at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • while” in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.

Yola[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English while, from Old English hwīl, from Proto-West Germanic *hwīlu.

Noun[edit]

while

  1. while
    • 1867, GLOSSARY OF THE DIALECT OF FORTH AND BARGY:
      A while agone.
      A while ago.

References[edit]

  • Jacob Poole (1867), William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith, page 22