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While vs whilst

Posted by GPP on July 27, 2003

In Reply to: While vs whilst posted by GPP on July 27, 2003

: : : Is there any logic at all to the use of the word 'whilst'? It's often used in place of "while" in print in the UK. However, I don't recall hearing it much. Is it archaic? I know it's a contaction, but of what?

: : Not a contraction. Fowler 2nd says no difference in usage. Merriam-Webster 2nd says for "amidst": "The 's' is an adverbial genitive ending; the 't' is excrescent, as in 'whilst'."

: Onions 1934 Shorter OED: Whilst, adv., conj. (prep.) late ME. [f. Whiles + t as in 'amongst', 'amidst'.] 1.a.In advb phr. 'the w.' (obs. or rare arch.), also as simple adv. (obs. exc. dial.): During that time, meanwhile. b.'The w.', conj. phr.: During the time that, while. Obs. or rare arch. late ME. 2.conj.=While conj. 1,b,c. late ME. 3.transf.=While conj. 2a,b,c 1548. 4.conj. Till, until. Obs. exc. dial. 1520.

'Excrescent': Phonol. Of a sound in a word, growing out of the the action of the speech organs in forming neighboring sounds...

"'transf.' and 'fig.'=in transferred and figurative use."

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