Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “while”

while

conjunction uk   /waɪl/ us  

while conjunction (DURING)

A2 (also formal whilst) during the time that, or at the same time as: I read it while you were drying your hair. While I was in Italy I went to see Alessandro. I thought I heard him come in while we were having dinner. "I'm going to the post office." "While you're there can you get me some stamps?"Simultaneous and consecutiveOrder and sequence

while conjunction (ALTHOUGH)

B2 (also formal whilst) despite the fact that; although: While I accept that he's not perfect in many respects, I do actually quite like the man. While I fully understand your point of view, I do also have some sympathy with Michael's.Connecting words which express a contrast

while conjunction (BUT)

B1 compared with the fact that; but: He gets £50,000 a year while I get a meagre £20,000! Tom is very extrovert and confident while Katy's shy and quiet. I do every single bit of housework while he just does the dishes now and again.Connecting words which express a contrast

while

noun uk   /waɪl/ us  
a while B1 a length of time: I only stayed for a short while. You were there quite a while (= a long time), weren't you? "When did that happen?" "Oh, it was a while ago (= a long time ago). I haven't seen him for a while (= for a long time). I'll be fine in a while (= soon).
See also
Periods of time - general words
(Definition of while from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of while?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “while” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

stampede

When animals or people stampede, they all move quickly in the same direction, often because they are frightened.

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More