In The Meantime: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 24, 2023

The phrase "in the meantime" refers to the intervening period of time between two events. It essentially means "during the time that something else is happening" or "while waiting for another event to occur." It's often used to suggest useful ways to spend time while waiting for something else to finish or happen. Whether you're waiting for your coffee to brew or for the next bus, there's always something you can do "in the meantime."

In short:

  • "In the meantime" is used to describe the period between two events.
  • It suggests a useful way to spend time while waiting for something else.

What Does "In the Meantime" Mean?

"In the meantime" refers to the intervening time between two events. If you plan to do something "in the meantime," it means you will do it while waiting for another thing to occur. It suggests making use of time effectively instead of simply waiting.

Let's delve into its key meanings and usage:

  • The phrase "in the meantime" describes activities done during a waiting period. For example, if you're waiting for a meeting, you might check your emails "in the meantime," indicating you're using the time productively instead of just waiting.
  • It's often used when discussing how to fill time productively or enjoyably while waiting for another event. So, if your friends are late for a meet-up, you might decide to read a book "in the meantime."
  • Similar phrases to "in the meantime" include "in the interim," "while waiting," and "during this time."

Where Does "In the Meantime" Come From?

The expression "in the meantime" has its roots in old English and was first recorded in the late 14th century. Originally, it was written as two words "meantime," where "mean" referred to 'middle' or 'intermediate,' and "time" referred to a 'period.' Over the years, the phrase has evolved to "meantime," signifying 'interim' or 'intervening period.'

Historical Example

"And in the meantime, do you not certainly know, that timely and serious reflection upon them is, through divine grace, the only way to prevent your ruin?"

- The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul ... with a Devout Meditation, 1815

10 Examples of "In the Meantime" in Sentences

To help you understand when and how to use this phrase, let's look at some examples from various contexts:

  • Let's put a pin in this discussion for now and, in the meantime, focus on the immediate tasks.
  • The project deadline has been postponed until next month. In the meantime, we can focus on improving the design details.
  • I'll bid you adieu now and complete the report in the meantime.
  • The next bus won't arrive for another 30 minutes. In the meantime, we could grab a cup of coffee.
  • I'll catch up with you, but in the meantime, enjoy your day.
  • He's on his way but stuck in traffic. In the meantime, I'll start preparing dinner.
  • The doctor will be with you soon. In the meantime, please fill out these forms.
  • I'll pack our lunch in the meantime; you focus on driving safely.
  • I'll log in once I reach home; in the meantime, send them invitations for a Zoom meeting.
  • He's picking up the pizza. In the meantime, let's set up the table.

Examples of "In the Meantime" in Pop Culture

The phrase "in the meantime" often appears in popular culture, generally indicating a period of waiting or filling in time.

Let's check out a few examples:

  • "In the Meantime" is a popular song by the British alternative rock band Spacehog, released in 1996. The song lyrics express the idea of living life in the present moment while waiting for something else to happen.
  • "In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and The Love You Want" is a book written by Iyanla Vanzant. In this work, the author shares her insights on how to focus on and improve oneself during periods of waiting and transition.
  • "In the Meantime" by Bishop Timothy E. Criss, published in 2017, serves as a motivational tool to inspire readers to persevere, stay determined, and never lose hope in the face of challenges.
  • "In the Meantime" by Robin Lippincott, released in 2011, tells the story of three five-year-old children who meet on a sweltering summer day in 1931 in a small Midwestern town.

Other/Different Ways to Say "In the Meantime"

There are several other phrases and idioms that can be used as alternatives to "in the meantime."

Here are a few of them:

  • While waiting
  • In the interim
  • During this time
  • For now
  • Meanwhile
  • Until then
  • While we're at it
  • As we wait
  • At this point
  • While that's happening

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "In the Meantime":

  • What does "in the meantime" mean?

"In the meantime" is a phrase that denotes the period of time between two events, or while an event is in progress.

  • How can I use "in the meantime" in a sentence?

You can use "in the meantime" to refer to something that is happening or will happen during the interval of two other events. For example, "Get well soon; in the meantime, I'll take care of your assignments."

  • Is "in the meantime" a formal phrase?

"In the meantime" can be used in both formal and informal contexts. It is not considered overly formal or informal, making it a versatile phrase.

  • Can "in the meantime" and "meanwhile" be used interchangeably?

Yes, in most cases, "in the meantime" and "meanwhile" can be used interchangeably as they both refer to something that happens at the same time as another event.

  • Does "in the meantime" refer only to future events?

No, "in the meantime" can refer to events in the past, present, or future. It's about the time between two events, regardless of when those events occur.

  • Is "in the meantime" one word or three?

"In the meantime" is a phrase composed of three separate words. It should not be written as a single word or hyphenated.

  • Can "in the meantime" be used at the beginning of a sentence?

Yes, "in the meantime" can be used at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence, depending on the context.

  • Can "in the meantime" be used in a negative context?

Yes, "in the meantime" can be used in a negative context, but the negativity comes from the actions or events being described, not from the phrase itself.

  • Is there a comma after "in the meantime"?

When "in the meantime" begins a sentence, it is usually followed by a comma. However, when used in the middle or end of a sentence, a comma is not always necessary. The placement of a comma depends on the overall sentence structure.

  • What are some synonyms of "in the meantime"?

Some synonyms for "in the meantime" include "meanwhile," "in the interim," "during this time," and "until then."

Final Thoughts About "In the Meantime"

"In the meantime" represents a period of time between two events or during the course of an event. It's used to fill the gap between two actions and is a useful phrase for bridging events in storytelling or in providing instructions.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "In the meantime," can refer to a span of time that can be short or long, depending on the context.
  • It can be used in both formal and informal situations, making it a versatile phrase for various contexts.
  • It does not carry any emotional or connotative weight of its own but rather takes on the tone of the events or actions it is used to connect.

Understanding the phrase "in the meantime" can help improve your conversational and written English by providing a succinct way to link events or actions.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Copyright © 2024 - U.S. Dictionary
Privacy Policy