1 [til]
up to the time of; until: to fight till death.
before (used in negative constructions): He did not come till today.
near or at a specified time: till evening.
Chiefly Midland, Southern, and Western U.S. before; to: It's ten till four on my watch.
Scot. and North England.
to the time that or when; until.
before (used in negative constructions).

before 900; Middle English; Old English (north) til < Old Norse til to, akin to Old English till station, German Ziel goal. See till2

Till1 and until are both old in the language and are interchangeable as both prepositions and conjunctions: It rained till (or until) nearly midnight. The savannah remained brown and lifeless until (or till) the rains began. Till is not a shortened form of until and is not spelled 'till. 'Til is usually considered a spelling error, though widely used in advertising: Open 'til ten.
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2 [til]
verb (used with object)
to labor, as by plowing or harrowing, upon (land) for the raising of crops; cultivate.
to plow.
verb (used without object)
to cultivate the soil.

before 900; Middle English tilen, Old English tilian to strive after, get, till; cognate with Dutch telen to breed, cultivate, German zielen to aim at

mistilled, adjective
untilled, adjective
untilling, adjective
well-tilled, adjective


3 [til]
a drawer, box, or the like, as in a shop or bank, in which money is kept.
a drawer, tray, or the like, as in a cabinet or chest, for keeping valuables.
an arrangement of drawers or pigeonholes, as on a desk top.

1425–75; late Middle English tylle, noun use of tylle to draw, Old English -tyllan (in fortyllan to seduce); akin to Latin dolus trick, Greek dólos bait (for fish), any cunning contrivance, treachery


4 [til]
Geology. glacial drift consisting of an unassorted mixture of clay, sand, gravel, and boulders.
a stiff clay.

1665–75; origin uncertain

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
till1 (tɪl)
conj, —prep
1.  short for until Also (not standard): 'til
2.  (Scot) to; towards
3.  dialect in order that: come here till I tell you
usage  Till is a variant of until that is acceptable at all levels of language. Until is, however, often preferred at the beginning of a sentence in formal writing: until his behaviour improves, he cannot become a member

till2 (tɪl)
1.  to cultivate and work (land) for the raising of crops
2.  another word for plough
[Old English tilian to try, obtain; related to Old Frisian tilia to obtain, Old Saxon tilōn to obtain, Old High German zilōn to hasten towards]

till3 (tɪl)
a box, case, or drawer into which the money taken from customers is put, now usually part of a cash register
[C15 tylle, of obscure origin]

till4 (tɪl)
an unstratified glacial deposit consisting of rock fragments of various sizes. The most common is boulder clay
[C17: of unknown origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"until," O.E. til (Northumbrian), from O.N. til "to, until," from P.Gmc. *tilan (cf. Dan. til, O.Fris. til "to, till," Goth. tils "convenient," Ger. Ziel "limit, end, goal"). A common preposition in Scand., probably originally the accusative case of a noun now lost except for Icelandic tili "scope,"
the noun used to express aim, direction, purpose (e.g. aldrtili "death," lit. "end of life"). Also cf. Ger. Ziel "end, limit, point aimed at, goal," and compare till (v.).

"cultivate (land)" (early 13c.), "plow" (late 14c.), from O.E. tilian "tend, work at, get by labor," originally "strive after," related to till "fixed point, goal," and til "good, suitable," from P.Gmc. *tilojanan (cf. O.Fris. tilia "to get, cultivate," O.S. tilian "to obtain," M.Du., Du. telen "to
breed, raise, cultivate, cause," O.H.G. zilon "to strive," Ger. zielen "to aim, strive"), from source of till (prep.).

"cashbox," 1452, from Anglo-Fr. tylle "compartment," O.Fr. tille "compartment, shelter on a ship," probably from O.N. þilja "plank, floorboard," from P.Gmc. *theljon. The other theory is that the word is from M.E. tillen "to draw," from O.E. -tyllan (see toll (v.)),
with a sense evolution as in drawer (see draw).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
till   (tĭl)  Pronunciation Key 
An unstratified, unconsolidated mass of boulders, pebbles, sand, and mud deposited by the movement or melting of a glacier. The size and shape of the sediments that constitute till vary widely.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the subsequent idioms beginning with till, also see hand in the till; until.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
On the other sit the farmers who used to till the land until they were evicted.
Unfortunately, a recipe that is bringing fame-and cash in the till-can't be
Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue till successful
  candidates are selected.
But you walk on, till you see a group of friendly faces.
Idioms & Phrases
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