Definition of while conjunction from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//waɪl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//waɪl//
    (formal whilst
    BrE BrE//waɪlst//
    ; NAmE NAmE//waɪlst//
    especially in British English
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  1. 1  during the time that something is happening synonym when We must have been burgled while we were asleep. Her parents died while she was still at school. While I was waiting at the bus stop, three buses went by in the opposite direction.
  2. 2  at the same time as something else is happening You can go swimming while I'm having lunch. shoes mended while you wait
  3. 3  used to contrast two things While Tom's very good at science, his brother is absolutely hopeless. Some people work better to music while others do not. Language BankcontrastHighlighting differences This survey highlights a number of differences in the way that teenage boys and girls in the UK spend their free time. One of the main differences between the girls and the boys who took part in the research was the way in which they use the Internet. Unlike the girls, who use the Internet mainly to keep in touch with friends, the boys questioned in this survey tend to use the Internet for playing computer games. The girls differ from the boys in that they tend to spend more time keeping in touch with friends on the telephone or on social networking websites. Compared to the boys, the girls spend much more time chatting to friends on the telephone. On average the girls spend four hours a week chatting to friends on the phone. In contrast, very few of the boys spend more than five minutes a day talking to their friends in this way. The boys prefer competitive sports and computer games, whereas/while the girls seem to enjoy more cooperative activities, such as shopping with friends. When the girls go shopping, they mainly buy clothes and cosmetics. The boys, on the other hand, tend to purchase computer games or gadgets.
  4. 4  (used at the beginning of a sentence) although; despite the fact that… While I am willing to help, I do not have much time available. Language BankneverthelessConceding a point and making a counter-argument While the film is undoubtedly too long, it is nevertheless an intriguing piece of cinema. It can be argued that the movie is too long. It is nonetheless an intriguing piece of cinema. The film is undoubtedly too long. Still, it is an intriguing piece of cinema. Of course, huge chunks of the book have been sacrificed in order to make a two-hour movie, but it is nevertheless a successful piece of storytelling. Critics are wrong to argue that the film’s plot is too complicated. Certainly there are a couple of major twists, but audiences will have no difficulty following them. It is true that you cannot make a good movie without a good script, but it is equally true that a talented director can make a good script into an excellent film. It remains to be seen whether these two movies herald a new era of westerns, but there is no doubt that they represent welcome additions to the genre.
  5. 5(Northern British English) until I waited while six o'clock.
  6. Word OriginOld English hwīl ‘period of time’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wijl, German Weile; the conjunction is an abbreviation of Old English thā hwīle the ‘the while that’.Idioms
    while you’re/I’m etc. at it
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    used to suggest that somebody could do something while they are doing something else ‘I'm just going to buy some postcards.’ ‘Can you get me some stamps while you're at it?’
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: while