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semester

[si-mes-ter]
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noun
  1. (in many educational institutions) a division constituting half of the regular academic year, lasting typically from 15 to 18 weeks.
  2. (in German universities) a session, lasting about six months and including periods of recess.
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Origin of semester

1820–30; < German < Latin sēmē(n)stris of six months duration < *sex-mēnstris, equivalent to sex six + mēns(is) month + -tris adj. suffix (perhaps representing an earlier *mens(i)-teros)
Related formsse·mes·tral, se·mes·tri·al [si-mes-tree-uh l] /sɪˈmɛs tri əl/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for semester

semester

noun
  1. (in some universities) either of two divisions of the academic year, ranging from 15 to 18 weeks
  2. (in German universities) a session of six months
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Derived Formssemestral, adjective

Word Origin

C19: via German from Latin sēmestris half-yearly, from sex six + mensis a month
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 semester

n.

1827, from German Semester "half-year course in a university," from Latin semestris, in cursus semestris "course of six months," from semestris, semenstris "of six months, lasting six months, half-yearly, semi-annual," from sex "six" (see six) + mensis "month" (see moon (n.)). Related: Semestral; semestrial.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper