What vs While - What's the difference?

what | while |

As nouns the difference between what and while

is that what is (obsolete) something; thing; stuff while while is an uncertain duration of time, a period of time.

As a pronoun what

is (interrogative) which thing, event, circumstance, etc: used interrogatively in asking for the specification of an identity, quantity, quality, etc.

As an adverb what

is in some manner or degree; in part; partly; usually followed by with .

As an interjection what

is .

As a determiner what

is which; which kind of.

As a conjunction while is

during the same time that.

As a verb while is

to pass (time) idly.



(wikipedia what)


(English Pronouns)
  • (interrogative) Which thing, event, circumstance, etc.: used interrogatively in asking for the specification of an identity, quantity, quality, etc.
  • (relative, nonstandard) That; which.
  • * 1902 , , (The Admirable Crichton) :
  • That’s her; that’s the thing what has stole his heart from me.
  • (relative) That which; those that; the thing that.
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-06-21, author=(Oliver Burkeman)
  • , volume=189, issue=2, page=48, magazine=(The Guardian Weekly) , title= The tao of tech , passage=The dirty secret of the internet is that all this distraction and interruption is immensely profitable. Web companies like to boast […, or offering services that let you "stay up to date with what your friends are doing",


  • In some manner or degree; in part; partly; usually followed by with .
  • Such.
  • (label) Why?
  • * (rfdate) (Chaucer)
  • What should I tell the answer of the knight?
  • * (rfdate) (John Milton)
  • But what do I stand reckoning upon advantages and gains lost by the misrule and turbulency of the prelates?
  • Used to introduce each of two coordinate phrases or concepts; both…and.
  • * :
  • And as for on C good knyghtes I haue my self / but I fawte / l / for so many haue ben slayne in my dayes / and so Ladegreans delyuerd his doughter Gweneuer vnto Merlyn / and the table round with the C knyghtes / and so they rode fresshly with grete royalte / what' by water and ' what by land / tyl that they came nyghe vnto london


    * such


    (en interjection)
  • * 1605 Wm. Shakespeare, King Lear
  • What , have his daughters brought him to this pass?
    What ! That’s amazing.
  • (British, colloquial, dated) Is that not true?
  • It’s a nice day, what'''?'' (sometimes repeated, e.g.: '''''What'''-'''what ? )


    (en determiner)
  • Which; which kind of.
  • What shirt are you going to wear?
    What time is it?
    What kind of car is that?
  • How much; how great (used in an exclamation).
  • What talent he has!
    What a talent!

    Derived terms

    * wat * what ho * whatness * what's what


  • (obsolete) something; thing; stuff
  • * Spenser
  • They prayd him sit, and gave him for to feed / Such homely what as serves the simple clowne, / That doth despise the dainties of the towne






    (en noun)
  • An uncertain duration of time, a period of time.
  • He lectured for quite a long while .


    (wikipedia while) (English Conjunctions)
  • During the same time that.
  • * , chapter=12
  • , title= Mr. Pratt's Patients , passage=While the powwow was going on the big woman came back again. She was consider'ble rumpled and scratched up, but there was fire in her eye.}}
  • * 1948 , , North from Mexico / The Spanish-Speaking People of The United States , J. B. Lippincott Company, page 25,
  • While De Anza was exploring the Bay of San Francisco, seeking a site for the presidio, the American colonists on the eastern seaboard, three thousand miles away, were celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-06-07, author=David Simpson
  • , volume=188, issue=26, page=36, magazine=(The Guardian Weekly) , title= Fantasy of navigation , passage=Like most human activities, ballooning has sponsored heroes and hucksters and a good deal in between. For every dedicated scientist patiently recording atmospheric pressure and wind speed while shivering at high altitudes, there is a carnival barker with a bevy of pretty girls willing to dangle from a basket or parachute down to earth.}}
  • Although.
  • * 2013 September 28, (Kenan Malik), " London Is Special, but Not That Special," New York Times (retrieved 28 September 2013):
  • While Britain’s recession has been deep and unforgiving, in London it has been relatively shallow.
  • (Northern England, Scotland) Until.
  • * Beaumont and Fletcher
  • I may be conveyed into your chamber; I'll lie under your bed while midnight.
  • As long as.
  • * I. Watts
  • Use your memory; you will sensibly experience a gradual improvement, while you take care not to overload it.


  • To pass (time) idly.
  • * Longfellow
  • The lovely lady whiled the hours away.
  • To loiter.
  • (Spectator)

    Derived terms

    * while away * meanwhile * the while