The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
While \While\, n. [AS. hw[imac]l; akin to OS. hw[imac]l,
hw[imac]la, OFries. hw[imac]le, D. wigl, G. weile, OHG.
w[imac]la, hw[imac]la, hw[imac]l, Icel. hv[imac]la a bed,
hv[imac]ld rest, Sw. hvila, Dan. hvile, Goth. hweila a time,
and probably to L. quietus quiet, and perhaps to Gr. ? the
proper time of season. [root]20. Cf. Quiet, Whilom.]
1. Space of time, or continued duration, esp. when short; a
time; as, one while we thought him innocent. "All this
This mighty queen may no while endure. --Chaucer.
[Some guest that] hath outside his welcome while,
And tells the jest without the smile. --Coleridge.
I will go forth and breathe the air a while.
2. That which requires time; labor; pains. [Obs.]
Satan . . . cast him how he might quite her while.
At whiles, at times; at intervals.
And so on us at whiles it falls, to claim
Powers that we dread. --J. H.
The while, The whiles, in or during the time that;
meantime; while. --Tennyson.
Within a while, in a short time; soon.
Worth while, worth the time which it requires; worth the
time and pains; hence, worth the expense; as, it is not
always worth while for a man to prosecute for small debts.