I. preposition Etymology: Middle English betwene, preposition & adverb, from Old English betwēonum, from be- + -twēonum (dative plural) (akin to Gothic tweihnai two each); akin to Old English twā two Date: before 12th century 1. a. by the common action of ; jointly engaging <
shared the work between the two of them
talks between the three — Time
b. in common to ; shared by <
divided between his four grandchildren
2. a. in the time, space, or interval that separates b. in intermediate relation to 3. a. from one to another of <
air service between Miami and Chicago
b. serving to connect or unite in a relationship (as difference, likeness, or proportion) <
a one-to-one correspondence between sets
c. setting apart <
the line between fact and fancy
4. a. in preference for one or the other of <
had no difficulty deciding between the two
b. in point of comparison of <
not much to choose between the two coats
5. in confidence restricted to <
a secret between you and me
6. taking together the combined effect of <
between work and family life, they have no time for hobbies
Usage: There is a persistent but unfounded notion that between can be used only of two items and that among must be used for more than two. Between has been used of more than two since Old English; it is especially appropriate to denote a one-to-one relationship, regardless of the number of items. It can be used when the number is unspecified <
economic cooperation between nations
, when more than two are enumerated <
between you and me and the lamppost
partitioned between Austria, Prussia, and Russia — Nathaniel Benchley
, and even when only one item is mentioned (but repetition is implied) <
pausing between every sentence to rap the floor — George Eliot
. Among is more appropriate where the emphasis is on distribution rather than individual relationships <
discontent among the peasants
. When among is automatically chosen for more than two, English idiom may be strained <
a worthy book that nevertheless falls among many stools — John Simon
the author alternates among mod slang, clichés and quotes from literary giants — A. H. Johnston
. II. adverb Date: before 12th century in an intermediate space or interval

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


Look at other dictionaries:

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  • between — 1 /bI twi:n/ preposition 1 in or into the space or time that separates two things or people: I sat between Sue and Jane at the Christmas party. | There was a low brick wall between our garden and the field beyond. 2 in the time that separates two …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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