Revised as of 13 October 2017
This word confusion pair — while and whilst — mean the same thing.
While is American and being used more in Britain. Note that whilst is considered pretentious and/or quaint in America.
Whilst is rare in America, and you’re better off using whilst in fictional novels that require International English or in historical writing.
You may also want to explore the Word Confusion post, “A While vs Awhile vs While or Whilst vs Wile“.
…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.
|Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com ; Dictionary.com: while|
|Part of Grammar:|
Plural for noun: whilst
As (indicating a contrast)
In spite of the fact that
[British, variation] Whilst
Throughout the time that
At the same time that (showing an analogous or corresponding action)
[the while] At the same time, meanwhile
Time and effort used in the performance of an action
[Poetic, literary] During the time that
[Chiefly British] While
[U.S. usage] While
During or in the time that
Throughout the time that
To wait a long while
[Archaic] A particular time or occasion
The period while the animal remains alive is critical.
One person wants out, while the other wants the relationship to continue.
While I wouldn’t recommend a nighttime visit…
While she appreciated the honor, she could not accept the position.
The floor was strewn with books, while magazines covered the tables.
Please light the fire while I’m cooking.
I prefer to stay inside while it’s raining.
Hey, I’ll make it worth your while.
[Poetic, literary] …beseeching, him, the while his hand she wrung…
Whiling away the hours, he read a book.
Enjoy the season whilst it’s here.
He left whilst you were in the garden.
Whilst she appreciated the honor, she could not accept the position.
My ladies and I work our embroidery whilst we visit.
Whilst Frank is a good worker, he does not do well as a farmer.
Her sister had fallen whilst walking in her sleep at night.
Raspberries have a matte, spongy surface whilst blackberries have a taut, shiny skin.
It was whilst we explored the woods that we saw the unicorn.
We did not see Matthieu whilst we visited.
It has been a whilst since anyone has lived on the estate, and it has gone to ruin.
|History of the Word:|
|1 Old English hwīl meaning period of time is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch wijl and the German Weile.||An abbreviation of Old English thā hwīle the meaning the while that.
By Late Middle English it evolved as whiles + -t.
C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!
Pinterest Photo Credits:
Quotes with Word “Whilst” is courtesy of Combiboilersleeds.com and Two Cable Cars in the Same Trackway in San Francisco is Goodshoped35110s’ own work in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.