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Betwixt

Betwixt means the same as between. It is rare in the U.S., where it is considered an archaism, but it’s still used fairly often in British English, more often in speech than in writing. It sometimes appears in the redundant cliché betwixt and between, meaning in an intermediate position or neither one thing nor another.

Examples

Except where betwixt is still a living word, its use can come across as a sometimes cutesy, sometimes pretentious affectation. For instance, it is at least a little out of place in these American publications:


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In the area from the foul line to the no-charge arc, betwixt the daintiness of pull-up jumpers and the clatter and clash of driving layups, Jamison thrives. [Cleveland.com]

Betwixt the glamorous stores of Fifth Avenue, New York City, one store in particular is showcasing something other than glittering jewels and silky fabrics. [Daily Illini]

[A]ll is not well betwixt the members of the Pineapple State delegation. [Vanity Fair]

In each case, between could replace betwixt with no loss of meaning.

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Comments

  1. This is not uncommon in the UK, though often abbreviated as ‘twixt.

  2. “Betwixt,” provides a clearer picture (perhaps only to me personally) of a condition or definition in transition that under certain circumstances does not require a modifier (‘something . . .”), that would normally be accompanying “between.” “Between,” conveys more of a separator as opposed to a position. “Croatia is between Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.” Conveys two me an immediate sense of where it likes on the map. “Croatia is betwixt Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.” Conveys more of an impression of torn loyalties and populations with conflicting beliefs. “Croatia is somewhere between Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina,” indicates that a nation is trying to set its political positions to find a middle ground.” “Croatia is somewhere betwixt Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina,” strikes me as redundant and awkward. Perhaps that’s just me. And possibly it’s a product of a classic liberal education rendered irrelevant by modern usage.

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