Etymology
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while (v.)
"to cause (time) to pass (without dullness)," 1630s, earlier "to occupy or engage (someone or something) for a period of time" (c. 1600), new formation from while (n.), not considered to be from Middle English hwulen "to have leisure," which is from a Germanic verb form of while (n.) (compare German weilen "to stay, linger"). An association with phrases such as Shakespearean beguile the day, Latin diem decipere, French tromper le temps "has led to the substitution of WILE v by some modern writers" [OED] (see wile (v.)).
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while (n.)
Old English hwile, accusative of hwil "a space of time," from Proto-Germanic *hwilo (source also of Old Saxon hwil, Old Frisian hwile, Old High German hwila, German Weile, Gothic hveila "space of time, while"), originally "rest" (compare Old Norse hvila "bed," hvild "rest"), from PIE *kwi-lo-, suffixed form of root *kweie- "to rest, be quiet." Notion of "period of rest" became in Germanic "period of time."

Now largely superseded by time except in formulaic constructions (such as all the while). Middle English sense of "short space of time spent in doing something" now only preserved in worthwhile and phrases such as worth (one's) while. As a conjunction, "during or in the time that; as long as" (late Old English), it represents Old English þa hwile þe, literally "the while that." Form whiles is recorded from early 13c.; whilst is from late 14c., with unetymological -st as in amongst, amidst. Service while-you-wait is attested from 1911.
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awhile (adv.)
"for a space of time," Old English ane hwile "(for) a while" (see while (n.)); usually written as one word since 13c.
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whilst (adv.)
late 14c., from while (q.v.) with adverbial genitive -s-, and unetymological -t (see amidst).
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worthwhile (adj.)
by 1660s, worth while (one-word form from late 19c.), from worth (adj.) + while (n.). Phrase worth the while is attested from late 14c.
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whilom (adv.)
"at time past" (archaic), c. 1200, from Old English hwilum "at times," dative case of while (q.v.). As a conjunction from 1610s. Similar formation in German weiland "formerly."
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wile (v.)
late 14c., "to deceive," from wile (n.). Related: Wiled; wiling. Sense of "cause (time, etc.) to pass pleasantly, divert attention pleasantly" is by 1796, from confusion with while (v.).
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meanwhile (n.)

also mean while, late 14c., "mean time, the interval between one specified period and another," from mean (adj.2) "middle, intermediate" + while (n.). From late 14c. as an adverb, "during or in a certain period of time." Properly two words as a noun but commonly written as one, after the adverb.

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erstwhile (adv.)
1560s, "formerly," from erst "first, at first; once, long ago; till now" (13c.), earlier erest from Old English ærest "soonest, earliest," superlative of ær (see ere) + while (adv.). As an adjective, "former," from 1903. Cognate with Old Saxon and Old High German erist, German erst.
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