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When I was reading The American Pageant by Thomas A. Bailey, I came across this sentence:

These common convictions deeply shaped the infant colony’s life. Soon after the colonists’ arrival, the franchise was extended to all “freemen”—adult males who belonged to the Puritan congregations, which in time came to be called collectively the Congregational Church.

I usually see "over time" and here the writer is using "in time". Then I start doing research on "in time".

According to this thread,(https://www.quora.com/What-s-the-difference-between-in-time-with-time-and-over-time)

I’ll just add that there are occasions when “in time,” although indeed often implying a deadline, can also be used synonymously to “with time” and “over time” to allude to a gradual process:

“In time, you will learn to appreciate the benefits of hard work.”

“In time, you will come to understand why we made that decision.”

So, "in time" and "over time" seem to be synonyms.

Then I have checked COCA.

"In time came to" gets 3 hits.

a town that in time came to include seven churches, an equal number of saloons

Yet each action reshaped the debate and in time came to be seen emphasis miner as necessary if not inevitable

catering to a glamorous clientele that in time came to include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

"Over time came to" gets 4 hits.

whose party over time came to adopt similar reforms --

the dispersed letters over time came to form a shield,

in the Democratic party had the opposite effect on its rival, which over time came to be seen as more hospitable to religious traditionalists

urban bourgeoisie within the hegemonic party indicates that political choices by this party over time came to serve the interests and ideologies

What is the difference between "in time" and "over time"? Is there a particular reason the writer of The American Pageant prefers "in time" here?

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What is the difference between "in time" and "over time"?

Like you mentioned, "in time" and "over time" seem to be synonyms. Of course "in time" has another meaning also, of "meeting a deadline."

Is there a particular reason the writer of The American Pageant prefers "in time" here?

Very interesting. I have not thought about this topic before, but "over time" seems to imply

  1. A gradual process
  2. Possibly that work, or effort, or difficult changes are being accomplished over the gradual process.

whereas "in time" implies:

  1. certainly, that time had to pass. But not necessarily a gradual process, and not necessarily with work or effort.

Let's evaluation some of the examples:

catering to a glamorous clientele that in time came to include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

When they became clients, it was a sudden event, not gradual. It happened in an instant, and without effort at that instant. This example seems to highlight a case where "over time" would not be the #1 choice.

which in time came to be called collectively the Congregational Church.

Again, a name changing might have occurred relatively quickly, and without effort.

the dispersed letters over time came to form a shield

This might have been gradual, and implied effort.

So, that's one hypothetical analysis of the difference between the two expressions. It may be the "work" aspect is spurious correlation, and the main point is really about "gradual" vs. "non-gradual".

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