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definition of the word amidst

by the Wiktionnary

Middle English amidde, amiddes, on midden, from Old English on middan ‘in the middle’, from midd ‘central’. The s is an adverbial ending, originally marking the genitive; the t is a later addition, as in whilst, amongst, alongst. See mid.

amidst

  1. In the midst or middle of; surrounded or encompassed by; among.
    • 1748. David Hume. Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals. London: Oxford University Press, 1973. § 4.
      Be a philosopher ; but amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.

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Amidst and amongst differ to some extent from each other, as will be

seen from their etymology. Amidst denotes in the midst or middle of, and hence surrounded by; as, this work was written amidst many interruptions. Among and amongst denote a mingling or intermixing with distinct or separable objects; as, He fell among thieves. Blessed art thou among women. Hence, we say, among the moderns, among the ancients, among the thickest of trees, among these considerations, among the reasons I have to offer. Amid and amidst are commonly used when the idea of separate or distinguishable objects is not prominent. Hence, we say, they kept on amidst the storm, amidst the gloom, he was sinking amidst the waves, he persevered amidst many difficulties; in none of which cases could among be used. In like manner, Milton speaks of Abdiel, The seraph Abdiel, faithful found; Among the faithless faithful only he, because he was then considered as one of the angels. But when the poet adds, From amidst them forth he passed, we have rather the idea of the angels as a collective body.

Amidst and amongst are deprecated by style guides from both sides of the Atlantic (TimesOnline and The Guardian and Hansard (Canadian parliament). Use "amid" and "among". See the Talk page of Talk:whilst for the URLs (Sorry for the round about edit request, but the Wiktionary software has trapped this user into an endless round of arithmetic gateway questions.)


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