What Does Worth Your While Mean?

Worth Your While Meaning

Definition: Valuable enough for the time or trouble that something takes.

Origin of Worth Your While

This idiom originated in the 1600s. One meaning of while is simply time. Because worth means having value or good enough to justify something, the idiom makes sense literally.

To be worth my while means that something is important enough to justify the amount of time or work that one must do to achieve it.

Another common idiom that contains this expression is to make something worth your while. People use this when they wish to compensate a person well for taking some action. This second idiom originated in the 1800s. People often use it to imply that there will be a large sum in exchange for the completion of some undesirable task.

Another similar word is the adjective worthwhile, which originated in the latter half of the 1800s.

Examples of Worth Your While

make it worth my whileTwo friends are taking a walk in the park.

Dan: Thanks for helping me walk my new dog.

Kira: Sure. No problem! I’m glad to see that you are being a responsible new owner by making sure you know how to walk your dog properly.

Dan: Yeah. Since I’ve never owned a dog before, I am not sure what the proper doggie etiquette is.

Kira: Well, wanting to know is the first step! So, when your dog defecates, like he did just now, it is very important to bag it up and throw it out.

Dan: Ugh! Gross! We’re outside. Can’t I just leave it?

Kira: No. This is a public park, and it would be unsanitary.

Dan: Can you pick it up for me?

Kira: Absolutely not. This is your dog and your responsibility.

Dan: Come on. I’ll make it worth your while.

Kira: I’ll do it if you give me your secret cookie recipe.

Dan: Okay. Deal.

make it worth your whileThe following example involves two women discussing volunteering to feed people at a homeless shelter.

Gertrude: Do you want to help me serve food at the homeless shelter? I know it is far away, but your favorite actor will be volunteering there that same day!

Ruby: Really? That would definitely make it worth my while!

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about a murder.

  • Mary Stark told investigators that before her husband filed a complaint with the Sheriff’s Department, Ashley told him she would “make it worth his while” not to file a report. –Denver Post

This excerpt is from an article about a $400 hair dryer.

  • That’s clearly a big chunk of change to spend all at once, but if it lasted your whole life and you bought it early in life, I think you’d save money in the long run. At least if you have crazy thick hair like mine. (Too bad I’m too darn old to make it worth my while.) –OC Register

Summary

The phrase worth your while means something merits one’s time or effort.