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while

[hwahyl, wahyl] /ʰwaɪl, waɪl/
noun
1.
a period or interval of time:
to wait a long while; He arrived a short while ago.
2.
Archaic. a particular time or occasion.
conjunction
3.
during or in the time that.
4.
throughout the time that; as long as.
5.
even though; although:
While she appreciated the honor, she could not accept the position.
6.
at the same time that (showing an analogous or corresponding action):
The floor was strewn with books, while magazines covered the tables.
preposition
7.
Archaic. until.
verb (used with object), whiled, whiling.
8.
to cause (time) to pass, especially in some easy or pleasant manner (usually followed by away).
Idioms
9.
all the while, at or during this time; all along:
She realized all the while that the cake would fall.
10.
worth one's while, worth one's time, trouble, or expense:
The art exhibition that opened yesterday isn't worth your while.
Origin
900
before 900; Middle English; Old English hwīl; cognate with Dutch wijl, German weile, Old Norse hvīla, Gothic hweila
Can be confused
while, wile.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for while away

while away

verb
1.
(transitive, adverb) to pass (time) idly and usually pleasantly

while

/waɪl/
conjunction
1.
(subordinating) at the same time that please light the fire while I'm cooking
2.
(subordinating) all the time that I stay inside while it's raining
3.
(subordinating) in spite of the fact that while I agree about his brilliance I still think he's rude
4.
(coordinating) whereas; and in contrast flats are expensive, while houses are cheap
5.
(subordinating; used with a gerund) during the activity of while walking I often whistle
preposition, conjunction
6.
(Scot & Northern English, dialect) another word for until you'll have to wait while Monday for these sheets, you'll never make any progress while you listen to me
noun
7.
(usually used in adverbial phrases) a period or interval of time once in a long while
8.
trouble or time (esp in the phrase worth one's while) it's hardly worth your while to begin work today
9.
the while, at that time he was working the while
See also whiles
Usage note
It was formerly considered incorrect to use while to mean in spite of the fact that or whereas, but these uses have now become acceptable
Word Origin
Old English hwīl; related to Old High German hwīla (German Weile), Gothic hveila, Latin quiēs peace, tranquīlustranquil
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for while away
while
O.E. hwile, acc. of hwil "a space of time," from P.Gmc. *khwilo (cf. O.S. hwil, O.Fris. hwile, O.H.G. hwila, Ger. Weile, Goth. hveila "space of time, while"), originally "rest" (cf. O.N. hvila "bed," hvild "rest"), from PIE *qwi- "rest" (cf. Avestan shaitish "joy," O.Pers. iyatish "joy," L. quies "rest, repose, quiet," O.C.S. po-koji "rest"). Notion of "period of rest" became in Gmc. "period of time." Now largely superseded by time except in formulaic constructions (e.g. all the while). M.E. sense of "time spent in doing something" now only preserved in worthwhile and phrases such as worth (one's) while. As a conjunction (late O.E.), it represents O.E. þa hwile þe; form whiles is recorded from c.1220; whilst is from c.1375, with excrescent -st as in amongst, amidst (see amid).
while
"to cause (time) to pass without dullness, 1635, earlier "to occupy or engage (someone or something) for a period of time" (1606), new formation from while (n.), not considered to be from M.E. hwulen "to have leisure," which is from a Gmc. verb form of while (n.) (cf. Ger. weilen "to stay, linger"). An association with phrases such as Shakespearean beguile the day, L. diem decipere, Fr. tromper le temps "has led to the substitution of WILE v by some modern writers" [OED] (see wile).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with while away
Spend time idly or pleasantly, as in It was a beautiful day and we whiled away the hours in the garden. This expression is the only surviving use of the verb while, meaning “to spend time.” [ First half of 1600s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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