while Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo
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Meaning of “while” in the English Dictionary

"while" in British English

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whileconjunction

uk   /waɪl/  us   /waɪl/
  • 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?"

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  • 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 like the man. While I fully understand your point of view, I also have some sympathy with Michael's.

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  • 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 all the housework while he just does the dishes now and again.

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whilenoun

uk   /waɪl/  us   /waɪl/
a while

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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
(Definition of while from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"while" in American English

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whilenoun [U]

 us   /hwɑɪl, wɑɪl/
  • while noun [U] (LENGTH OF TIME)

a length of time: He only had to wait a short while. It was a while before any waiter took their order. That happened a while ago (= did not happen recently). I haven’t seen him for a while (= a long time). She’s getting dressed, and she’ll be ready in just a little while (= soon).

whileconjunction

 us   /hwɑɪl, wɑɪl/
  • while conjunction (DURING)

during the time that, or at the same time as: I read it while you were drying your hair. "I’m going to the post office." "While you’re there can you get me some stamps?"
  • while conjunction (ALTHOUGH)

despite the fact that; although: While I know he’s not perfect, I do like him.
  • while conjunction (BUT)

compared with the fact that; but: Tom is very outgoing, while Ken’s shy and quiet.
(Definition of while from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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