Betwixt – Usage & Meaning

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

The English language is highly influenced by other languages, and many archaic words have stuck around through the centuries and made their way into the modern English vernacular.

Betwixt is one of those words. Although rarely used in everyday speech, those who appreciate literature often tie the word into their own materials. It means the same as between. Even though you may feel it is easier to take advantage of the simpler, more accepted word, you should expand your vocabulary to understand the origins of the many words we use today.

What Does Betwixt Mean?

Betwixt Usage Meaning

Betwixt means the same as the word between. It is rare in the U.S., where it is considered an archaism, but it’s still used fairly often in British English, where it is more often used in speech than in writing.

For example:

  • Betwixt the hustle of Wall Street and the glamor of Fifth Avenue, the city of New York often seems at odds with itself.
  • Not all was well betwixt the members of the association, and a special session was called to hash out their differences.

It also sometimes appears in the redundant cliché betwixt and between, meaning in “an intermediate position” or “neither one thing nor another.”

For example:

  • Joann thrived betwixt and between the clutter of her children’s play and her professional home office space.

What Is an Archaism?

An archaism is the use of old languages. These are considered old-fashioned in their spelling, pronunciation, and use and are not used in everyday speech and writing. They also tend to stand out and create an emphasis due to their age and rarity, often driving home a point or forcing an audience to concentrate and pay attention to what is being said.

Archaic language differs from obsolete language, and the two shouldn’t be confused. Archaic language refers to words that people are still familiar with due to literary materials and historical speeches and thus are still occasionally used.

Obsolete language refers to words that are rarely used unless found in antiquated text and are not usually familiar to anyone who has not studied the materials.

Synonyms of Betwixt

As explained, betwixt can be replaced with between without changing the meaning of the sentence it is placed in. Some other words easily replace it as well, either directly or with a bit of sentence structure changes. These include:

  • Amidst
  • Among
  • At intervals
  • Amid
  • Bounded by
  • Halfway
  • In
  • In the middle
  • In the midst of
  • Medially
  • Mid
  • Midway
  • Separating

Etymology of Betwixt

Betwixt Ngram
Betwixt usage trend.

Betwixt derives from the Middle English word bitwixe from Old English betweox, meaning “between, or in the space that separates.” Its use appears during the 16th century and likely has Proto-Germanic influences.

Let’s Review

Betwixt is an archaism, meaning it is an old word that is rarely used and recognized. It means between and is more popular in spoken British English.