In written and spoken English, including today's publications and everyday conversations, is the word midst still in common usage, particularly the phrase, in the midst of? Or has it been replaced by middle (at least in common usage), such as the phrase, in the middle of.

Are there any meaningful distinctions between midst and middle, or between the phrases I cite above? Or is it mostly a matter of style? Is one more dated and old-fashioned than the other? Is midst no longer fashionable?

I notice that the ESV uses midst in Genesis 1:6, so this is at least one piece of evidence that the word is still fashionable, at least in written documents that are relatively recent. But I would be curious to see its usage elsewhere.

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    I use it and I see it used. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 1:22

1 Answer 1


I would think it less common than "middle" for this usage but not necessarily unpopular or deprecated. If anything, midst definitely has the air of permeating an ambiance or congruent form, as opposed to middle, which is a more literal representation of location. For example, it is possible to use "midst" and "middle" in the following:

It feels like I am standing in the midst of a fog.
It feels like I am standing in the middle of a fog.

...but while it is possible to use it in this other way, the meaning changes:

There is a pit in the midst of this plum.
There is a pit in the middle of this plum.

Here, "In the midst" gives the implication that it is somewhere within the congruence of the plum (could be up top, however inside, or off to the side) but "In the middle" is clear about the location being dead center. Therefore, "midst" has a meaning that is probably closer to the word "within". For this reason, usage for these words differ, and so the word choice comes down to what you're trying to express.

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    A well known phrase from the traditional Anglican Church funeral service (from the Book of Common Prayer) is "In the midst of life we are in death" - which illustrated that "midst" does not always literally mean "middle"!
    – alephzero
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 5:59

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