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In Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four there's the following passage:

He began swallowing spoonfuls of the stew, which, in among its general sloppiness, had cubes of spongy pinkish stuff which was probably a preparation of meat.

"Among" is defined as "in, into, or through the midst of; in association or connection with; surrounded by" (Dictionary.com), so the word itself already contains the notion of being "in".

Why does Orwell write "in among" instead of just "among"? Is there any difference between the two of them? How common is "in among"?

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Here "in" means "inside", that is, :

  • the stew, among its general sloppiness, had cubes ..inside it.
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You could expand to:

He began swallowing spoonfuls of the stew, which, in (the stew,) among its general sloppiness, had cubes of spongy pinkish stuff which was probably a preparation of meat.

in and among have separate meanings. Another example:

I was in the swimming pool, in among the other swimmers.

As in your definition, there is a relationship between the objects in the pool/stew. They are not just in it.

You could also use amongst in a literary context.

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From Orwell's Homage to Catalonia: "In among the fields and orchards there were deserted mud-walled huts..." Could've easily been "Among..." instead. So perhaps just an Orwellism? An idiosyncrasy?

  • This does not really answer the question. If you have a different question, you can ask it by clicking Ask Question. You can also add a bounty to draw more attention to this question once you have enough reputation. - From Review – laugh Mar 17 '18 at 21:26
  • @laugh: Rhetorical questions can still be part of answers, can't they? – Nathan Tuggy Mar 18 '18 at 1:19
  • @Nathan: the OP asked not only why "in among" is used instead of "among", but also about the difference and how common it is. These are good questions. This "answer" is just another example; it does not really answer any of the questions. Stating it as a rhetorical question suggests some uncertainty, which does not help. – laugh Mar 18 '18 at 18:27

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