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Blend of intertwine +‎ intermingle

This word has been coined independently multiple times.

  • Apparently used comically by Montgomery Gordon Rice of Bradley Polytechnic Institute in an April 1901 performance of Esmeralda[1]
  • Used as a noun by Henry James as a nickname for a group of his Emmet female cousins who were painters.[2]
  • Used as a noun by John Singer Sargent as a nickname for his 1900s genre paintings of the Ormond sisters (his nieces); either relating to the use of shawls as a motif,[3] or the interchangeability of the models, or their convoluted poses.[4] (Jane Emmet de Glehn, one of Henry James' "intertwingles", was also a friend and model of Sargent's.)
  • Introduced in urban planning by Tracy Augur in the 1950s, and adopted by others including Dennis O'Harrow

The more specific computing sense was introduced by Ted Nelson in Computer Lib/Dream Machines (1974).[5]


intertwingle (third-person singular simple present intertwingles, present participle intertwingling, simple past and past participle intertwingled)

  1. (intransitive, informal, rare) to entangle; to be confused, muddled, or enmeshed
    • 1896 Manmatha Nath Dutt, A Prose English Translation of Srimadbhagavatam, Book 9 Ch 9 p.37
      Now, having descarded, by virtue of the spirit of the lord of universe, the possessions resembling the city of the Gandharvas created by the illusive energy of God which naturally get intertwingled with (one's) soul; go I to seek the protection of Him.
    • 1901 (May) The Tech vol.4 no.7 (May ) "Bradley Briefs" p.6 (Bradley Polytechnic Institute)
      New word, just coined—intertwingled. Copyright applied for. All rights reserved.
    • 1917 June 27, “By the Way”, in The Outlook, volume 116, page 344:
      To the Kansas list we beg to add a New Jersey word, “intertwingle"—as roots do in the soil.
    • 1927 Evan Charteris John Sargent p.178 (New York: C. Scribner's sons)
      It was with the utmost reluctance that he could be induced, for the purpose of sale, to pull out any one of the water-colours which used to lie in their frames, jammed one against the other, in a large rack on the floor of his studio. If in response to insistence he acquiesced, he would produce one or two, always with a good deal of gutteral protest, pointing out what he considered their drawbacks, and qualifying them with some derogatory title. "Vegetables," "Dried Seaweed," "Troglodytes of the Cordilleras," "Blokes," "Idiots of the Mountains" and "Intertwingles" come back to me as a few of the titles bestowed on various renderings of woodland scenery, muleteers, figures on a hillside, and of a portrait group on a river bank.
    • 1950 December The New Era in Home and School Vol.31 No.10 p.246 "The Little Fire Engine" [review]
      Even if Graham Greene had not come out from the anonymity of The Little Red Engine and signed it, this is surely the Book of the Year. Pathos and humour ‘inextricably intertwingled’. Charlie Chaplin would not have disowned it, and a much younger Disney at his best would have envied it. For ages 4-8 and upwards.
    • 1954 October, Carl Feiss, Progressive Architecture Vol.34 No.10 p.174 "Out of School: City planning education as related to architectural education"
      This is largely an accident of history, but it is also a natural concomitant of the need for coupling urban technological analysis and problem explorations with designed and concrete solutions to social, political, economic, and physical problems of urban areas expressed in physical terms as plans. The fact that all of these elements are, as Tracy Augur says, "inextricably intertwingled" makes for the complex job of the "generalist in planning," in contradistinction to the specialist, let us say, in school architecture, or hospital architecture, or residential architecture.
    • 1962, Alma Mater, Vol.30 (American Alumni Council)
      Fortunately, these objectives are not only compatible, but are, to use a popular Washington phrase, "inextricably intertwingled."
    • 1963 Willis H. Ware Circuits and machine design Vol.2 of Digital Computer Technology and Design (Wiley, 1963) p.1253
      This plane of 1024 cores, so far as organization is concerned, can be thought of as four 32 × 8 arrays intertwingled.
    • 1984, Stanley Unwin, Deep Joy: Master of the Sproken Word, Caedmon, published 1984, →ISBN, page 139:
      I was particularly attracted to her, not only because of her spontaneous eloquence but also because she recognised me as: 'the gentleman who gets his words all intertwingled'.
  2. (intransitive, informal, computing, rare) To interconnect or interrelate in a deep and complex way.
    • 1991 February, Mark Bernstein, "Deeply Intertwingled Hypertext: The Navigation Problem Reconsidered" Technical Communication Vol.38 No.1 p.41
      Deeply intertwingled hypertext documents offer readers abundant choices, permitting reader and author to work together to dynamically reorganize the document to meet specific needs.
    • 2015 Theodor Holm Nelson, "What Box?" p.134 in Intertwingled: The Work and Influence of Ted Nelson Douglas R. Dechow and Daniele C. Strappa, eds. (2015) History of Computing →ISSN →ISBN
      This book, like the conference, is called Intertwingled. It’s a word that expresses a philosophical position about cross-connection. I said in Computer Lib, “Everything is deeply intertwingled.” I meant that all subjects and issues are intertwined and intermingled. ... Now, it’s also a metaphysic to say, “everything is deeply intertwingled,” since the sentence cannot be proven true or false. But it is computer science to say that we need to represent cross-connection, and I’m expressing a computer science opinion when I say that intertwingularity is a better form of representation—for everything—than hierarchy.

Related terms[edit]


  1. ^ See 1901 quote, and also Polyscope (June 1901, Bradley Polytechnic Institute) pages 115 and 119
  2. ^ Edward J Foote (July-October 1977) "An interview with Frederick W. MacMonnies, American sculptor of the beaux-arts era" New-York Historical Society Quarterly Vol.61 No.3-4 p.117
  3. ^ Richard Ormond (2003, 2nd ed.) John Singer Sargent p.189 (Yale University Press) →ISBN
  4. ^ Sue Welsh Reed (1993) Awash in color p.161 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in association with Bulfinch Press, Little, Brown) →ISBN
  5. ^ Dechow and Strappa 2015, pp. ix, 53, 73, 93