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Numeral. From Middle English tweynetweientwaine, from Old English twēġen m (two), from Proto-West Germanic *twai-, from Proto-Germanic *twai, from Proto-Indo-European *dwóh₁. Cognate with Saterland Frisian twäinLow German tweneGerman zweenSwedish tvenne .

The word outlasted the breakdown of gender in Middle English and survived as a secondary form of two, then especially in the cases where the numeral follows a noun. Its continuation into modern times was aided by its use in KJV, the Marriage Service, in poetry (where it is commonly used as a rhyme word), and in oral use where it is necessary to be clear that two and not to or too is meant.

Verb. From Middle English twaynen, from twayne (twonumeral) (see Etymology of Numeral above).


  • IPA(key)/tweɪn/[tʰw̥eɪn]



  1. (dated) two
    But the warm twilight round us twain will never rise again.
    Bring me these twain cups of wine and water, and let us drink from the one we feel more befitting of this day.


twain (third-person singular simple present twainspresent participle twainingsimple past and past participle twained)

  1. (transitive) To part in twain; divide; sunder.

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