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[tweyn] /tweɪn/
adjective, noun
Origin of twain
before 900; Middle English twayn orig., nominative and accusative masculine, Old English twēgen (cf. two); cognate with obsolete German zween
Can be confused
twain, twin, twine.


[tweyn] /tweɪn/
Mark, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for twain
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The twain also engaged in the fancy business, having a store in Broadway, above Grand street.

    The Humors of Falconbridge Jonathan F. Kelley
  • At that moment the lieutenant cleaved the skull of the man in twain.

  • In this fashion, then, did we draw Antony back to Cleopatra, that the ruin of the twain might be made sure.

    Cleopatra H. Rider Haggard
  • The state of being to which these twain have now arrived is the highest and best in life.

    The Heart of Nature Francis Younghusband
  • True to its aim, the weapon struck the face of the young hunter, almost cleaving his head in twain.

    Scouting with Daniel Boone Everett T. Tomlinson
British Dictionary definitions for twain


determiner, noun
an archaic word for two
Word Origin
Old English twēgen; related to Old Saxon twēne, Old High German zwēne, Old Norse tveir, Gothic twai


Mark, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. 1835–1910, US novelist and humorist, famous for his classics The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
Shania (ʃəˈnaɪə), real name Eilleen Regina Edwards. born 1965, Canadian country-rock singer; her bestselling recordings include The Woman In Me (1995) Come On Over (1997), and UP! (2002)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for twain

Old English twegen (masc.) "two" (masc. nominative and accusative), from Proto-Germanic *twa- (see two). The word outlasted the breakdown of gender in Middle English and survived as a secondary form of two, especially in cases where the numeral follows a noun. Its continuation into modern times was aided by its use in KJV and the Marriage Service, in poetry (where it is a useful rhyme word), and in oral use where it is necessary to be clear that two and not to or too is meant.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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twain in Technology
graphics, standard
An image capture API for Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh operating systems that enables the user to control a scanner or digital camera from image processing software.
TWAIN was first released on 1992-02-29 and is currently ratified at version 2.0 as of 2005-11-28. It is maintained by the TWAIN Working Group.
Kevin Bier, chairman-emeritus of the TWAIN Working Group and the one of the original co-author/editors of TWAIN 1.0, chose the name TWAIN after reading letters by Mark Twain. It was unofficially considered to mean "toolkit without an important name."
The word "twain" is an archaic form meaning "two". It appears in Kipling's "The Ballad of East and West" - "...and never the twain shall meet...", reflecting the difficulty, at the time, of connecting scanners and personal computers. It was up-cased to TWAIN to make it more distinctive. This led people to believe it was an acronym, and then to a contest to come up with an expansion. None were selected, but the entry "Technology Without An Interesting Name" continues to haunt the standard.
The TWAIN Working Group (
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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