word-forming element meaning "two, twice, double, in two ways," from Old English twi- "two, in two ways, twice, double," from Proto-Germanic *twi- (source also of Old Frisian twi-, Old Norse tvi-, Dutch twee-, Old High German zwi-, German zwei-), from PIE *dwis (source also of Sanskrit dvi-, Greek di-, Old Latin dvi-, Latin bi-, Lithuanian dvi-), from root *dwo- "two." Cognate with bi-. Older instances of it include Middle English twinter "two years old" (c. 1400, of cattle, sheep, etc.), reduced from Old English twi-wintre, and Old English twispræc "double or deceitful speech."
updated on May 19, 2017