while Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “while” in the English Dictionary

"while" in British English

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whileconjunction

uk   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 ​dryingyourhair. 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 ​postoffice." "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 ​fullyunderstandyourpoint 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   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 ​longtime), weren't you? "When did that ​happen?" "Oh, it was a while ago (= a ​longtime ago). I haven't ​seen him for a while (= for a ​longtime). 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 ​theirorder. That ​happened a while ago (= did not ​happenrecently). I haven’t ​seen him for a while (= a ​longtime). 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 ​dryingyourhair. "I’m going to the ​postoffice." "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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