A funny word

I am endlessly amused at the common usage in the UK of the word “whilst” — it seems to have no shortage of uses here including frequent appearance on street signs, “Please excuse the inconvenience whilst roadworks are in progress.”  Now that is an almost excessively polite sign the likes of which I cannot imagine seeing in the US.

Apparently the word is not favored in American usage; I certainly don’t recall hearing or seeing it there, but the written word on the subject is remarkably harsh:

  • Although “whilst” is a perfectly good traditional synonym of “while,” in American usage it is considered pretentious and old-fashioned.

Even better, Wikipedia says:

  • Whilst is synonymous with while in standard British English; in American English, it can be considered pretentious or archaic.

Pretentious, archaic and ubiquitous.  That’s the great thing about English word choice in England.  Now please excuse me whilst I eat my breakfast away from the computer.

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One response to “A funny word

  1. notfromaroundhere

    Found on my bottle of “washing up liquid” (a very long expression for dish soap, IMHO!):

    “with extracts of pink grapefruit and watermint oil to leave your dishes sparkling clean whilst helping to care for your hands”

    Not what would be found on a Palmolive bottle…

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