Use of the word "whilst".

I see the word “whilst” used with some frequency on these boards, but rarely (never, actually) do I hear it IRL. I also read quite a bit and can say that the word isn’t much in favor in popular fiction. I understand it’s mostly British, so I’ve checked the posters info and found that they’re usually right coast or flyover US.
Is this word in common usage, or is it’s use an affectation peculiar to the SDMB? Is it an anglophile conspiracy, designed to rip the guts out of our uniquely American way of speaking? :wink:
Are Canadians (shudder) behind it?

Submit, New Thread.

For some reason, I sometimes find myself saying “whilst”. Usually I catch it though, and say “while”. I don’t know why I have a tendency to say it (uless it’s because I read a lot); nor why, particularly, I try to supress it. :shrug:

I’ve never said “whilst,” but I do sometimes (okay, fairly regularly) say “amongst.”

Yes, I’ve used it on occasions, but I’ve been told my speech can be a little old fashioned at times. When my kids heard me say I was taking my brolly lest it should start to rain, they had a fit of hysterical laughter. And I can’t get out of the habit of calling a radio, a wireless. :slight_smile:


I use it (and spelt) occasionally on boards, just to throw people off track a bit.

I’m British and I hate it. It’s unnecessary - “while” is perfectly clear, so why add that annoying lisping “st”? It adds nothing but a spurious literary flourish. Ditto “amongst”.

“Whilst” is NOT in common use in Ontario, so these Canadians, at least, aren’t behind it. I’ve encountered it in documentation from the UK and India though.

To be honest, I’m not even sure how it’s pronounced. It looks like it should be “will-st”, but I seem to remember someone saying it’s “while-st”.

I use whilst quite often - its a perfectly crommulent word, after all.


Cromulent, (one ‘m’ intentionally ;)) - Used in an ironical sense to mean legitimate, and therefore, in reality, spurious and not at all legitimate.

I use it on occasion, where aesthetically appropriate. Sometimes it just feels like the right word to use. Mostly, though, I use while.

I use it a lot on these boards, and even sometimes in spoken English. I don’t think of it in any way as a literary flourish. It doesn’t bother me.

I use “while” as well. To me they are subtly different somehow. I think I use “while” to mean “during” and “whilst” to be a qualifier. I’m not sure now until I catch myself doing it next time.

“While you’re doing that, I’ll wash the dishes.”
“Whilst I agree with most of what you say, I don’t think…”

Yep, I think that’s how I use 'em.

Ah, that cromulent.

I edit it out of manuscripts, replacing it with “while.”

It is one of the words, along with “hereafter”, “ergo”, and " thereby", that I make a point of using every day, lest people discover I am actually very stupid. (BTW “lest” is one of them too).

I say “whilst.” I use a lot of semi-archaic words.

“Whilst” and also “whatnot” are driving me out of my head. I am the queen of anachronisms, but these two are just stupid. They’ve been picked up and overused by illiterate losers who want to pretend that they read real books. One cannot use them at all, ever, without being lumped into this category in my mind. So if you care, stoppit.

Yet it’s OK by you to make “stop it” into one word with two Ps in the middle of it?

Not snarky, just somewhat amused.

I think that its main use now is by bad poets. At one time it was probably perfectly legit.

How about 'Tis? I kinda like that. Just don’t use it 'cause it makes me sound like I’m a 19th Century Quaker or something out of a Barbara Cartland you-silly-goose novel.

One I don’t like is e’en – as a poetic abbreviation for even. Just sounds lazy to me. Makes things hard on lip readers.

Not being a syntactical genius, I think you’ll find that there is gramatical justification for using “whilst”. But evidence from this thread would suggest that few are fully conversant in the rules for its usage. Therfore it is probably an anachronism at least in informal language. There are alternatives that are more readily understood.

So TheLoadedDog, although (whilst) I believe that you are correct, it is not a word that I would normally use.