While describes a length of time. If you were describing a first date, you might say, "We sat there for a while in an incredibly awkward silence."

Use the word while to talk about an unspecific period of time, like when you ask your friend if you can borrow his notebook for a while. While is also a conjunction that describes things that happen at the same time, like crying while watching a very sad movie. The Old English root of while, hwil, is interesting because the w and the h are switched, but the meaning is the same: a space of time.

Definitions of while

n a period of indeterminate length (usually short) marked by some action or condition

“he was here for a little while
patch, piece, spell
cold snap, cold spell
a spell of cold weather
hot spell
a spell of hot weather
a spell of cold weather
Type of:
an indefinite period (usually marked by specific attributes or activities)

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