also 'tween, c. 1300 as an abbreviation of between. As a noun meaning "child nearing puberty" (approximately ages 9 to 12), attested by 1988, in this case by influence of teen. Tolkien uses it in "Lord of the Rings" for "the irresponsible twenties between [Hobbit] childhood and coming of age at thirty-three." Earlier in this sense was subteen (1952). Related: Tweens. Tweenie or tweeny was a term (late 19c.-early 20c.) for "between-maid, a servant who assists two others" and was used in reference to other persons or objects in intermediary situations. And 'tween-age (adj.) was used in descriptions of clothing from 1937. Tween-ager is attested from 1946.
updated on August 17, 2014