between

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English betwene, from Old English betwēonan, betwēonum (between, among, amid, in the midst, meanwhile, dative plural, literally by the two, near both), from Proto-Germanic *bi- (be-), *twihnaz (two each), corresponding to be- +‎ twain. Cognate with Scots between (between), Scots atween (between), Gothic 𐍄𐍅𐌴𐌹𐌷𐌽𐌰𐌹 (tweihnai, two each), Old English betweohs (between), Old English twinn (double, twofold). More at betwixt, twin.

Pronunciation[edit]

between
  • (UK) IPA(key): /bɪˈtwiːn/
  • (US) IPA(key): /bɪˈtwin/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: be‧tween

Preposition[edit]

between

  1. In the position or interval that separates (two things), or intermediate in quantity or degree. (See the Usage notes below.)
    John stood between Amy and Mary.  Let's meet between two and three.
    I want to buy one that costs somewhere between forty and fifty dollars.
    • 1893, Walter Besant, The Ivory Gate, Prologue:
      Thus, when he drew up instructions in lawyer language, he expressed the important words by an initial, a medial, or a final consonant, and made scratches for all the words between; his clerks, however, understood him very well.
    • 2013 July-August, Henry Petroski, “Geothermal Energy”, American Scientist, volume 101, number 4: 
      Energy has seldom been found where we need it when we want it. Ancient nomads, wishing to ward off the evening chill and enjoy a meal around a campfire, had to collect wood and then spend time and effort coaxing the heat of friction out from between sticks to kindle a flame.
  2. Done together or reciprocally.
    conversation between friends
    • 1935, George Goodchild, chapter 1, Death on the Centre Court:
      She mixed furniture with the same fatal profligacy as she mixed drinks, and this outrageous contact between things which were intended by Nature to be kept poles apart gave her an inexpressible thrill.
  3. Shared in confidence.
    Between you and me, I think the boss is crazy.  Let's keep this between ourselves.
  4. In transit from (one to the other, or connecting places).
    He's between jobs right now.  The shuttle runs between the town and the airport.
  5. Combined (by effort or ownership).
    Between us all, we shall succeed.  We've only got £5 between us.
    Between the leaky taps and the peeling wallpaper, there isn't much about this house to appeal to a buyer.
  6. One of (representing a choice).
    You must choose between him and me.
    Some colour-blind people can't distinguish between red and green.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Some groups of non-native speakers confuse between and among. It is sometimes said that between usually applies to two things, while among applies to more than two things. This is not correct; according to the Oxford English Dictionary (quoted at http://eebweb.arizona.edu/faculty/chesson/between_and_among.htm) "In all senses, between has been, from its earliest appearance, extended to more than two. In OE. and ME. it was so extended in sense 1, in which among is now considered better. It is still the only word available to express the relation of a thing to many surrounding things severally and individually, among expressing a relation to them collectively and vaguely: we should not say ‘the space lying among the three points,’ or ‘a treaty among three powers,’ or ‘the choice lies among the three candidates in the select list,’ or ‘to insert a needle among the closed petals of a flower".

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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See also[edit]

Noun[edit]

between (plural betweens)

  1. A kind of needle, shorter than a sharp, with a small rounded eye, used for making fine stitches on heavy fabrics.

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Anagrams[edit]