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I'm looking for a word meaning being part of our mortal real world, and part of the fey/spirit world.

The moors are haunted by Sigwiff, an ancient witch cursed to the form of a wolf. Part ghostly apparition, and part shadowy manifestation, a _____ existence, trapped between this world and the other.

Similar to “crepuscular” in spookiness factor, and similar in that crepuscular can denote creatures that exist between the two worlds of daylight and night. Ideally not a mundane word, and probably a word of some heritage, but possibly fallen out of modern use. A little bit wanky.

I have explored synonym chains adjacent to ethereal, twilight, otherworldly, fey, metaphysical, unearthly .. to no avail.

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    chthonic - which is quite a lot wanky. – High Performance Mark Nov 12 at 16:45
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    @HighPerformanceMark Nice, but although underworldly is sufficiently synonymous with otherworldly for me it still denotes fully "over there", not the cross-dimensional crepuscular-adjacent nature I seek. Nonetheless, still one of my favourite words. – Erics Nov 12 at 16:51
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    Sheeesh some of you are hard to please. Go with twilife ? – High Performance Mark Nov 12 at 16:52
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    Nonsense ?????? – David Nov 12 at 20:07
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    How about interstitial? – Jim Nov 12 at 20:23
61

liminal is the exact word for this context.

  1. Adjective: of, relating to, or situated at a sensory threshold : barely perceptible or capable of eliciting a response

  2. Adjective: of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : IN-BETWEEN, TRANSITIONAL

ORIGIN OF LIMINAL 1880–85; < Latin līmin- (stem of līmen) threshold + -al

Example of use from 2: And the restaurant seems to inhabit a liminal zone between full service and casual, clearly refined in the past two years to serve both new and longtime neighbors. — Jen Thomas, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: What we know about the Gilroy shooting so far," 29 July 2019

Apart from bearing the right meaning, the more subtle reasons I like liminal for this context are that it speaks somewhat of erudition, and that it has a strong connection with the psychological.

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    Nice. Captures that essence of being in that blended merging transition phase. – Erics Nov 13 at 1:31
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    I concur that liminal is a better word than intermundane for your context, even though it has many different senses. It would be great to see more details added to this answer. – ermanen Nov 13 at 6:28
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    Thanks, I've added some more details. – Jonathan Moore Nov 13 at 9:52
  • I like "transitional". To me that sounds like the best answer so far. – Mr Lister Nov 13 at 10:26
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    "... Cupid and Psyche serves as an example of the liminal in myth...She is always regarded as too beautiful to be human yet not quite a goddess, establishing her liminal existence...Psyche resides in the liminal space of no longer being a maiden yet not quite a wife, as well as living between worlds." Wikipedia/Liminality – ermanen Nov 13 at 22:21
11

Intermundane can be considered.

existing between worlds

Merriam-Webster

Etymology of the word:

inter- prefix + Latin mundus world, mundānus of or belonging to the world

It is more of a futuristic term in terms of astronomy but it mostly appears in fantasy or religion context when I search the word.

Etymonline includes a note about intermundane under interplanetary:

Boyle and Locke both used intermundane in the same sense; the Roman Epicureans had intermundia (neuter plural) for "spaces between the worlds" (translating Greek metakosmia).

Intermundia is a slightly different term and the singular from is intermundium which is defined as:

space between worlds

Merriam-Webster

  • Tempting. The nuance I'm sensing is it's more a space between two spaces though? Will investigate deeper, read more references. Thanks. – Erics Nov 13 at 1:35
  • @Erics: It is a less common sense. Interspace (n.) is a more apt term for space between or among things. (interspatial adj.) – ermanen Nov 13 at 5:44
5
  • inbetween

    adjective. being between one thing, condition, etc., and another: a coat for in-between weather.

  • intermediate

    adjective. being, situated, or acting between two points, stages, things, persons, etc.: the intermediate steps in a procedure.

  • inter-whatever

    a prefix occurring in loanwords from Latin, where it meant “between,” “among,” “in the midst of,” “mutually,” “reciprocally,” “together,” “during” (intercept; interest); on this model, used in the formation of compound words (intercom; interdepartmental).

Words that don't refer to being between worlds, but might work to complete the sentence.

  • transient ("ghostly... shadowy manifestation", implying movement between worlds.)

    adjective

    1. not lasting, enduring, or permanent; transitory.
    2. lasting only a short time; existing briefly; temporary: transient authority.
    3. staying only a short time: the transient guests at a hotel.
  • wretched

    adjective. very unfortunate in condition or circumstances; miserable; pitiable.

2

A word that gives the feeling you want (although its original meaning is very different) is demimonde.

From Wikipedia:

  • The showtime series Penny Dreadful (TV series) makes mention of the demimonde. Recasting it as a spiritual dimension.

Author Ben Aaronovitch also uses demi-monde to mean half-human, half-fey in his Rivers of London series.

The novels centre around the adventures of Peter Grant, a young officer in the Metropolitan Police; who, following an unexpected encounter with a ghost, is recruited into the small branch of the Met that deals with magic and the supernatural.

Here's a small excerpt:

‘Well, he’s definitely associated with the demimonde,’ began Nightingale.

‘The demi-monde?’ asked Seawoll, who didn’t appreciate being unhappy and liked to spread it around when he was.

‘It’s what we call all the people involved in some way or the other with weird bollocks,’ I said, in an effort to head them both off. ‘Some of them are just people that know things and others are people who are a bit strange in themselves.’ Out loud it sounded even weaker than it had in my head. But Seawoll nodded.

‘Individuals like Reynard are not uncommon,’ said Nightingale. ‘And it’s hard to tell whether they have, consciously or unconsciously, sought to mimic a figure from folklore or myth, or whether they are indeed an incarnation of that figure.’

  • Note that demimonde does have some other connotations which might not be desirable, such as an underworld association with drugs and sexual promiscuity. – barbecue Nov 15 at 17:02
  • @barbecue I'd never heard the word before reading Ben Aaronovitch's books, and he defines it to mean what he wants. I was not even aware that his definition is not the usual one, nor that the usual one is so different from his until yesterday while researching this answer.. – CJ Dennis Nov 15 at 22:36
  • I suspect this may have been deliberate on the author's part. In the 19th century, demimonde implied an illicit, shady, but also somewhat exciting and "glamorous" alternative to everyday life. It suggested the exotic and strange, as much as the criminal A demimondaine was looked down on in polite society, but also envied to some extent. – barbecue Nov 16 at 2:43
  • @barbecue My point is that this is such an archaic word that most modern readers will be unaware of any meaning that the author is not using, as indeed I wasn't previously aware. So trying to impart a flavour that his readers will mostly be unaware is almost a waste of time. – CJ Dennis Nov 16 at 2:47
  • hmm, well I guess it depends on his readership. It's not an everyday word, but it's certainly not archaic. It's primarily 19th and 20th century usage, that's quite recent as words go. – barbecue Nov 16 at 2:53
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Chimera: an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts.

as found in Merriam-Webster...

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    In use, "A Chimeric Existence" – Ruadhan2300 Nov 13 at 14:36
  • "We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed." With due respect, Sire/Madame, brevity is the soul of the wit. :) – Bao Nov 13 at 18:00
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    Chimeric wouldn't be a bad suggestion. – Alex M Nov 13 at 21:09

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