27 June 2012

What is a Tween?

You may have heard the word "tween" used lately--a lot. Most people who use it mean a preteen, "a person who is between the ages of 10 and 12 years old" (Wikipedia, Tween) and I've heard people say that it's a "new word." However, I first read this word years ago, in a little book series called The Lord of the Rings, which "was written in stages between 1937 and 1949" (Wikipedia, The Lord of the Rings). In Tolkien's novels, tween is used "  to refer to Hobbits in their twenties: "...tweens as Hobbits called the irresponsible twenties between childhood and the coming of age at thirty-three."[43] In this context, the word is really either a shortened version of between or a portmanteau of teen and twenty, and in either case has no connection to "teens," preteens or the American marketing niche" (Wikipedia, Preadolescence). I think from this it's quite clear that it isn't a new word.

Every time I hear the word, I think of these guys:
We were tweens before it was cool!

Merry and Pippin are the archetypal tweens in my mind: fun-loving young people who don't take life too seriously and offer some much-needed comic relief. 
Pippin: Anyways, you need people of intelligence on this sort of... mission... quest... thing. 
Merry: Well, that rules you out, Pip. 

And they're always thinking about food.
Pippin: What about breakfast? 
Aragorn: You've already had it. 
Pippin: We've had one, yes. What about second breakfast? 
[Aragorn turns and walks off in disgust
Merry: I don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip. 
Pippin: What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he? 
Merry: I wouldn't count on it. 

I for one am going to continue using tween to refer to people like Merry and Pippin. What about you? What do you think?


  1. I hear the phrase "tweens" used quite a lot actually. And I'm laughing at the Mary/Pippin comparison! Really fun :D

  2. Oh I love Merry and Pippin! I'm saying their lines with an accent as I read this, lol.

    Thanks for signing up for the What If blogfest! Excited to see what you've got :D

  3. HA! I love Merry and Pippin!!!

    And oh wow, you're right! LotR is, in fact, the earlist place I've seen that word used. Huh.