Whiling away the hours

I was getting creative today and I faltered over the spelling/grammatical accuracy of the phrase ‘she whiles away the hours.’  It is something that I have said frequently and yet, I don’t think that I have ever seen it written.  Is it while or wile?

The Collins online dictionary

while away



(transitive, adverb) to pass (time) idly and usually pleasantly

So it could be used to say:  she whiles away the hours

A search for ‘wile away’ does not produce any results but has a very different meaning if the word ‘wile’ is used as a verb:




(transitive) to lure, beguile, or entice

And yet, the examples of sentences using ‘wile’ given by the Collins use wile away in the same sense as above.

Historically, there are examples of the phrase being used with both spellings and my research suggests that both are technically correct.  However, ‘whiles away’ is the spelling in more common usage and hence the one that I will be using.


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