Is there a word meaning that usage of something is narrower than "mainstream" but wider than "niche"?

For example, speaking of operating systems, Windows is mainstream, embedded operating systems are oriented on their niches, and Linux and Mac OS X are... well... somewhere in between. (You may arguably classify Mac OS X as mainstream-too, and Linux as still-niche, but anyway you get the idea.)

(If you know more than 3 popularity gradations, you are welcome to name them.)

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    Dunno if there is an English word, but there are metaphors. Mainstream is a metaphor, and so is niche, but they're different metaphors. No wonder you can't find "between". You might find this or this helpful in considering OS metaphors, though. Apr 5, 2012 at 15:46
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    Apples and oranges. Niche implies distinct, mainstream implies popular. Apr 6, 2012 at 0:02
  • i believe cult-following is a better antonym for mainstream..en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainstream Apr 6, 2012 at 5:07

3 Answers 3


I'd place Linux more as "alternative" and Mac-OS as "gaining in popularity" (i.e. referring to its movement/trend more than current popularity status). Unix I would say is "niche" as it's used in very particular business scenarios (such as the OS for NMR machines).

There is definitely a niche-mainstream dichotomy so rather than find new words to fill the gap, you might like to try modifiers for those two. Then you could refer to Mac-OS as "Almost-Mainstream"


I submit domain as a possibility.

It covers a whole general realm, such as the Medical, Legal or Finance domains. It is not something that everyone has knowledge of or access to, but it is larger than a niche.


You could perhaps call it a "minor-league" option: something that many people know about or at least have heard of, but only a few people actually pay attention to.


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