So this has been a debate in my house in recent weeks.

Xoe will say something about being/looking up pictures of/something geared at a tween. Rowyn will reply with, “I hate that word. It’s not even a thing. I’m not a tween and I’ll never be a tween.”

To which Xoe will retort, “It is so a thing!”

Cue the “Mooooom!” shouts from both of them. I’ve already been called upon to referee this particular argument no fewer than 3 times, which neither ever being satisfied, LOL.

So, tween.

It’s been a shortened form of between since around 1300, which is obviously not the way it’s being use in the debate above. 😉 No, we’re talking about “a child nearing puberty, between the ages of 9 and 12.” Not quite a teen, but not always wanting to be grouped with the little kids. Well, this use can be traced to 1988, apparently–just a couple years before I would have been termed one, though I don’t recall ever hearing the word until I was in my 20s. It’s thought that this use is mostly linked to its nearness to the spelling of “teen,” but it may also have been influenced by J. R. R. Tolkein using tween in The Lord of the Rings to refer to a period of irresponsible behavior in the Hobbit life-cycle.

Interestingly, before tween was used for this age group, there was apparently the word subteen used for the same, in the 1950s.

In earlier days, the word tween or tweenie was also used for a maid who served two others.

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