Synonyms of while in English:
verbBack to top
1 tennis helped to while away the time
pass, spend, occupy, use up, fritter, kill
conjunctionBack to top
1 while we waited, the weather only worsened
during the time that, when, as;
chiefly British whilst
Whilst is hardly ever used in American writing (it's still relatively common in Britain), and copyeditors will always change it to while. But this is too bad. Whilst shares with certain other nearly archaic words—relict and whilom, for example—an attractive period flavor. It calls to mind keepsake albums, rose bowers, and afternoon tea. Forgotten Edwardian novels might well open with sentences like “Whilst Lady Gwendolen …”—and the modern reader can immediately descry, if ever so faintly, the red velvet settee upon which the pouting young girl reclines, quietly sulking because Reginald is late again with the landau. Certainly every good writer should strive to keep alive at least a few odd and endangered words like whilst.Michael Dirda
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