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From Middle English betwene, from Old English betwēonanbetwēonum (between, among, amid, in the midst, meanwhiledative plural, literally by the two, near both), from Proto-Germanic *bi- (be-) + *twīhnaz (two each), from Proto-Indo-European *dwóh₁ (two), corresponding to be- +‎ twain. Cognate with Scots between (between)Scots atween (between)Gothic 𐍄𐍅𐌴𐌹𐌷𐌽𐌰𐌹 (tweihnaitwo each)Old English betweohs (between)Old English twinn (double, twofold). More at betwixttwin.


  • (UK) IPA(key)/bɪˈtwiːn/
  • (General American) IPA(key)/bəˈtwin//bɪˈtwin/[bɪˈtʰwin]

Alternative forms

  • betweene (archaic)
  • betwene (archaic)
  • b/w (abbreviation)



  1. In the position or interval that separates (two things), or intermediate in quantity or degree. (See 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.
  2. Done together or reciprocally.
    conversation between friends
  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.
  7. Taking together the combined effect of.
    Between the food and the card games, this proved to be the best birthday party I have ever had.

Usage notes

  • 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: “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’”


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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