verb[with object] (often while away the time)
Old 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'
1 While is sometimes used, without causing any misunderstandings, in the sense of whereas (‘although,’ ‘by contrast,’ ‘in comparison with the fact that’). This usage is frowned on by some traditionalists, but while is sometimes preferable, as in contexts in which whereas might sound inappropriately formal: while you say you like her, you’ve never stood up for her. Whereas is preferable, however, for preventing ambiguity in contexts in which while might be read as referring to time, or might falsely suggest simultaneity: whereas Burton promised to begin at once, he was delayed nine months for lack of funding; whereas Jonas was an excellent planter and cultivator, Julius was a master harvester. 2 On the distinction between awhile and a while, see awhile (usage). 3 On the distinction between worth while and worthwhile, see worthwhile (usage).