I want to express possibilities on a scale while providing 3 common examples.


If I say "Houses in this neighbourhood vary among blue, orange and red," this means it can be any of the three, but not values in between.

If I say "Houses in this neighbourhood vary between blue, orange and red," this is incorrect because between should be used only for two items.

Is there another word that can be used to represent variance across the entire scale while allowing me to provide three concrete examples, or must I say something like "Houses in this neigbourhood vary in colour; most are blue, orange or red?"


Of course, now that I've asked the question, this option occurs to me: "Houses in this neighbourhood vary from blue to orange to red." Is that clear?

  • Ah, this is indeed a perplexing construction :) I'd suggest from...to..., but that works only really well with two or four items, except you group red and orange together, that is: "...vary in colour, from red and orange [all the way] to blue" Does this work? Also, in your first two examples, you need to have colour in there somewhere. Or could you just simply use spectrum in order to avoid among?
    – Jimi Oke
    Jan 27, 2011 at 18:15
  • "blue to orange to red" certainly works. Not exactly elegant, but it gets your point across correctly and nicely!
    – Jimi Oke
    Jan 27, 2011 at 18:32

4 Answers 4


This is a good place to use the lovely word gamut.

Houses in this neighbourhood run the gamut of colours from blue to orange to red.

As gamut means 'the whole scale or range' of a thing, you automatically include everything in between.

EDIT: To answer your edit, no, that just makes it sound like they vary between those three colours. You could say:

"Houses in this neighbourhood vary from blue to orange to red and everything in between."


"Spectrum"--it's particularly apropos for your color-based example, but can also work for any continuous scale:

Houses in this neighborhood cover the spectrum from blue to orange to red.

Another possibility would be to say "range from":

Houses in this neighborhood range from blue through orange all the way to red.


That between can only be used for two items is a myth.

Merriam-Webster says:

There is a persistent but unfounded notion that between can be used only of two items and that among must be used for more than two. Between has been used of more than two since Old English; it is especially appropriate to denote a one-to-one relationship, regardless of the number of items. It can be used when the number is unspecified <economic cooperation between nations>, when more than two are enumerated <between you and me and the lamppost> <partitioned between Austria, Prussia, and Russia — Nathaniel Benchley>, and even when only one item is mentioned (but repetition is implied) <pausing between every sentence to rap the floor — George Eliot>. Among is more appropriate where the emphasis is on distribution rather than individual relationships <discontent among the peasants>. When among is automatically chosen for more than two, English idiom may be strained <a worthy book that nevertheless falls among many stools — John Simon> <the author alternates among modern slang, clichés and quotes from literary giants — A. H. Johnston>.

Here is a blog post discussing further the distinction between between and among.

However, this doesn't really answer the original question because neither between nor among carry the meaning sought. I would say “Houses in this neighbourhood vary in color between blue and red, including orange.”



The houses in the neighborhood are treither red, blue or orange.

  • 1
    Are you suggesting treither as an existing word that answers the question or are you coining a new word for use in this instance?
    – nohat
    Jan 28, 2011 at 19:06
  • I don't think treither is a word.
    – platframe
    Jan 28, 2011 at 19:31
  • 2
    I think this is a cute neologism that will be taken in exactly the way that the OP doesn't want: choosing exactly one of a set of three choices.
    – Hellion
    Jan 30, 2011 at 7:22
  • @Hellion Either more that suffices here.
    – tchrist
    Aug 19, 2012 at 1:49

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