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Alternative forms[edit]


From whiles +‎ -t. Surface analysis while +‎ -st (excrescence). Cognate with West Frisian wylst (whilst). More at whiles.




  1. (Britain, rare or literary in North America) While, at the same time.
    Synonyms: while; see also Thesaurus:while
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 17, in The China Governess[1]:
      The face which emerged was not reassuring. It was blunt and grey, the nose springing thick and flat from high on the frontal bone of the forehead, whilst his eyes were narrow slits of dark in a tight bandage of tissue. […].
    Drivers must switch off engines whilst on stand.(instruction on a bus stand sign)

Usage notes[edit]

In American English, whilst is considered to be pretentious or archaic. Penguin Working Words recommends while only, and notes that whilst is old-fashioned. Cambridge Guide to English Usage and M-W's Webster's Guide to English Usage comment on its regional character, and note that it is rare in American usage. It is thus safer to use only while in international English. The American Heritage Guide writes that, "while using whilst runs the risk of sounding pretentious, it can sometimes add a literary or ironically formal note to a piece of writing".


Further reading[edit]