This guide will give you all the information you need to understand the words amidst. You’ll learn what it means, how it’s used, the origin, examples, and more.
Some words have a certain feel to them. They enhance what we say or really convey the imagery we want to portray. Amidst is a great word, but if you don’t know what it means, you could use it incorrectly or in the wrong context.
Learning more about the words we use and hear helps broaden our vocabularies, and we can take that knowledge and glean more from the texts we read and the speech we hear as well.
What Does Amidst Mean?
According to the dictionary, amidst is kin to the word amid. Both words are prepositions, and there are a couple of similar meanings for the words.
- Into the middle or in the middle of
- Surrounded by
- With the accompaniment of
Whether or not to use amidst or amid is typically a personal preference or how the sentence sounds. Here are examples of each to note the difference:
- She felt at one with the ancients amidst the beautiful gardens and their unending loveliness.
- The clean and quaint little cottage stood out amid the squalid cabins sprinkled throughout the uncleared woods.
- The new variant increased clicks to the site amidst the growing tendency to monitor the virus’s waves.
- Amid the scenery of the meadows, none of the interruptions from the previous day could penetrate her thoughts as she stared up in wonder at the rainbow.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), these prepositions can be used interchangeably.
What Is the Origin of Amidst?
When you’re learning a word to its fullest extent, it helps to learn the etymology of the word. Etymology is the origin story of a word. Like a superhero, you can appreciate a word more when you know its history.
Amidst in Modern English means in the midst of something, and it comes from the Middle English amidde, amyddes, amiddes, or midden. These words come from the Old English middan. Middan also meant “in the middle,” and it is from midd meaning “central.”
An -s was added as an adverbial ending. This was originally to mark the word with the adverbial genitive case. The t was a later addition. This is similar to words like alongst, whilst, or amongst.
Amid vs. Amidst
Some people believe the word amidst is from British English and amid is from American English, but the words are interchangeable and used in both with the same relative frequency.
On both sides of the Atlantic, style guides typically prefer amid over amidst.
How Do You Use Amidst?
The words amidst and amid have been in use since the 1560s. They are not uncommon words in our everyday speech. Typically, amidst is used more frequently, and it is often used to indicate when someone or something is mingling in the midst of others.
In our everyday speech, amid is a perfectly acceptable word in place of amidst. In fact, the -s and -t suffixes of amidst as an adverbial suffix are purely superlatives. Regardless, amidst denotes that an object is mingling with separable things, separable objects, or distinguishable objects.
For example, you may notice that an inappropriate comment or an inappropriate image is amidst the regular content of a page. This goes along with the idea of separate things, among others.
It’s unlikely that amidst is in your daily usage, but it would be more commonly used by a poet to help with illustrations in poetry. An example of this can be found when the poet John Milton speaks of the seraph Abdiel in the line from the poem “Paradise Lost”:
So spake the seraph Abdiel, faithful found
Among the faithless, faithful only he;
Among innumerable false, unmoved,
Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal;
Though single. From amidst them, forth he passed,
Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustained
The expressive use helps it sound as though Abdiel came from within the collective body in Milton’s idea of the angels. We may not use the word frequently, but in the context of the poem, it adds depth. Other poets, even more modern ones, can accomplish the same artful imagery when they use words like amidst.
What Are Synonyms for Amidst?
Synonyms are words that have the same meaning. In order to communicate the same meaning in a variety of ways, you can use synonyms.
Here are a few synonyms for the word amidst:
What Are Antonyms for Amidst?
Antonyms have the opposite meaning of a word. Learning words that mean the opposite of a word can further our understanding of that word and its use.
Here are words that are antonyms for amidst:
- Afar from
- Away from
- Far from
What Are Some Examples for Using Amidst?
Examples are a great way to learn how to use a word.
Here are a few examples of using the word amidst:
- Amidst her gloom, the cloudy sky was a reminder of the coming storm.
- He felt at home amid the familiar instruments.
- He hid amidst all the fighting thieves.
- It was hard to hear amidst all the chants and cheers.
- An investigation was deemed necessary amidst all the accusations.
- She sat amidst the beauty on the banks of the Spey River.
The Last Word
In summary, learning definitions can help you understand the words you use more thoroughly. Then, you can use words like amidst more effectively. The word amid can be used interchangeably for the word amidst. Hopefully, you’ll feel more confident using the words amid and amidst in your everyday conversation.