Intermediate+ Word of the Day: meanwhile

meanwhile (adverb, noun) /ˈminˌhwaɪl/ LISTEN

The adverb meanwhile means ‘during the time between two events’ or ‘at the same time.’ As a noun, the meanwhile means ‘the time between.’

Example sentences

  • Our move to California is planned for the middle of next month; meanwhile, we'll be busy packing.
  • Susan went shopping on Saturday; meanwhile, her husband got a tattoo!
  • The teacher will be gone for twenty minutes. In the meanwhile, please work on your essays.

Words often used with meanwhile

Meanwhile, back at the ranch is a well-known phrase in US English. In the past it was used by narrators of American cowboy movies as a transition between scenes. Now it is mostly used ironically. Example: “My wife is on a business trip in Hawaii. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the kids are driving me crazy!”

In pop culture

Listen to Kitty Wells singing “Meanwhile, Down at Joe’s” here:

Similar expressions

In the meantime is a synonym for meanwhile or in the meanwhile.


Meanwhile (sometimes also found as mean while), meaning the interval between one period and another’ or ‘the time when something else happens,’ dates back to the mid-14th century, as the Middle English noun menewhile. It is formed by the adjective mean (middle or intermediate) and the noun while (a period of time). Mean dates back to the mid-14th century, as the Middle English adjective meene or mene, and came into English from the Anglo French meines and the Old French mein, a variant of moiien (mid-, medium, common or middle class). It can be traced back to the Late Latin medianus (of the middle), from the Latin medius (in the middle), and the Proto-Indo-European root medhyo– (middle). Mean is related to the French moyen (medium or middle), the Catalan mitjà (middle), the Spanish medio (middle) and mediano (medium), the Italian mezzi (mid- or middle) and the Portuguese meio (middle), as well as the Sanskrit madhyah and Avestan madiya– (middle), the Greek mesos (in the middle, between or from the middle), the Gothic midjis (middle), the Old Church Slavonic medzu (between), the Armenian mej (middle), and English words such as amid, intermediate, medal, medieval, Mediterranean, medium, Mesopotamia, Mesozoicmidriff, midwife and milieu. While dates back to before the year 900, as the Old English noun hwīl, meaning ‘a space of time’ (Middle English whil or while). It can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic hwilo and the Proto-Indo-European root kweie– (to rest or be quiet). While is related to the Old Saxon hwil, the Old Frisian hwile, the Old High German hwila, the German Weile and the Gothic hveila (space of time), as well as the Old Norse hvila (bed) and hvild (rest), the Avestan shaitish (joy), shaiti– (well-being) and shyata– (happy), the Old Persian šiyatish (joy), the Latin quies (rest, repose or quiet), the Old Church Slavonic po-koji (rest), and English words such as coy, quiet, quit, quite and requiem, among others. Meanwhile has been used as an adverb since the late 14th century. It developed as a shortening of the adverbial phrase ‘in the meanwhile.’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Word of the Day is released Monday through Friday.

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like