'Betwixt', 'amiss': active vocabulary?



Are they old-fashioned words? Bookish?
Do you use them?

‘betwixt and between’
‘your work is going amiss today’
‘did I speak amiss?’
‘it would not be amiss for you to make an apology’
‘nothing comes amiss to a hungry stomach’ :slight_smile:
‘take (/think) amiss’
‘what is amiss?’ (= what happened?)

How do the expressions sound for you?

Hi Tamara

Amiss is a “normal” word for me but betwixt sounds quite unusual. (AmE!)


Hi Tamara,

Amiss is all right. Makes me think of the saying A miss is as good as a mile - totally irrelevant but had to say it.

Betwixt is an archaic form and probably is best known in the pair betwixt and between meaning neither one nor the other. If you are betwixt and between jobs, it means you haven’t actually got a job at the moment, you’ve left one and are hoping to get another one very soon. It also pops up as twixt in the saying:


Hi Amy and Alan,

Thank you.
OK. I’ll try to learn amiss

Some old English words look so charming and are attractive (for me). All those ‘thee’, etc.
So… bewitching :slight_smile:

What is interesting - now I’ve counted 9 (!) Russian proverbial sayings with exactly the same meaning!


They are so attractive that there have been books published listing archaic words in English that have been lost but not replaced by anything. They would still be useful, except that no one uses or understands them. There was one old word I heard a long time ago that was a term for a clown who is trying too hard to be funny but is just embarrassing. I need this word frequently, but alas it is not in the language anymore. (I can’t remember the word itself now.)

Hi Jamie

Concerning another (survived) old word (and an ancient character) that bewitched my mind:
one of my recent - very! interesting - excursion to history (mythology) was called by the word Trickster used by my Russian friend – he is a psychotherapist – to name an archetype.

I’ve found some ‘etymological’ sources (and some quite impressive old pictures) and now I know a bit more about it.

But what about the suffix –ster?
English contains many words with ‘-ster’.

On the one hand, it seems to be quite anxious.
On the other hand, I see it to be ‘fashionably’ used to create brand names…

Some suffixes go almost dead, only to be revived again for no apparent reason. When I was in graduate school, the suffix -dom, as in kingdom, Christendom, freedom, etc., was used in textbooks as a classic example of a suffix that had become completely nonproductive. They said the suffix appeared only on words that had only had been formed centuries ago. After that, I suddenly found that people – especially in advertising – were forming new words with it again. You’ll hear words like truckdom, geekdom, and many other new coinages.

Another ‘creative’ suffix is -hood.
Sisterhood :slight_smile: :lol:

Or am I mistaken and it isn’t ‘true antique English’ (and the suffix had come to English from somewhere)?