• synonyms


[jey-nuh s]
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  1. an ancient Roman god of doorways, of beginnings, and of the rising and setting of the sun, usually represented as having one head with two bearded faces back to back, looking in opposite directions.
  2. Astronomy. a moon of the planet Saturn, located just outside the rings.

Origin of Janus

< Latin, special use of jānus doorway, archway, arcade
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for janus


  1. the Roman god of doorways, passages, and bridges. In art he is depicted with two heads facing opposite ways

Word Origin

C16: from Latin, from jānus archway


  1. a small inner satellite of Saturn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for janus


ancient Italic deity, guardian god of portals, doors, and gates; patron of beginnings and endings, c.1500, from Latin Ianus, literally "gate, arched passageway," perhaps from PIE root *ei- "to go" (cf. Sanskrit yanah "path," Old Church Slavonic jado "to travel"). He is shown as having two faces, one in front the other in back. His temple in Rome was closed only in times of peace.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

janus in Culture



The Roman god of doors and gateways and hence of beginnings.


Janus was pictured with two faces looking in opposite directions, one young and one old. Consequently, a hypocritical person is often called “Janus-faced.”


The month of January is named after Janus.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.