Worth one’s while

Worth one’s while is an idiom that dates back to the 1300s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of the phrase worth one’s while, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Worth one’s while describes something that is worth one’s effort, time or expenditure. Something may be worth one’s while if the return is greater or commiserate with the effort or time expended upon it, or if it is something important enough to merit the effort or time expended upon it even without an immediate return. The phrase worth one’s while was first used in the 1300s. In this case, the word while refers to an interval of time.

A related phrase is to make something worth someone’s while, which is a promise of compensation of some sort in exchange for a person’s effort, time or expenditure.


If you and your advisor diverge on something that’s important to you, it’s worth your while to talk it out. (Investor’s Business Daily)

Once you’ve decided to wait in line for egg custard pastries at Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, you will need to decide whether it’s worth your while to go back the next day and wait in line all over again (pro tip: Yes, it is). (The Tasting Table Magazine)

“Even 10 to 15 years ago, you could make enough money off the furs to make it worth your while.” (The West Alabama Watchman)

“Having the three days gives you the ability to at least make it worth your while to have an event in Jacksonville Beach during those off-seasons as the crowds aren’t going to be as great as they are when the weather is really nice,” said Vogelsang. (The Florida Times-Union)

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