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Word of the Day
Monday, February 29, 2016

Definitions for bissextus

  1. February 29th: the extra day added to the Julian calendar every fourth year (except those evenly divisible by 400) to compensate for the approximately six hours a year by which the common year of 365 days falls short of the solar year.

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Citations for bissextus
This odd day was inserted after the sixth day before the kalends of March, i.e., after the 24th of February, and was not counted as an addition to the year, but as a sort of appendix. Hence the sixth of the kalends of March was called bissextus, or double sixth, which root is still retained in our word bissextile, though the day is now added at the end of February. E. S. Burns, "History of Chronology," The Popular Science Monthly, April, 1881
The Romans looked upon the Bissextile, or leap day, as unfortunate, and in the Middle Ages this superstition was extended to the whole year. The French are still in the habit of saying, when any misfortune happens, that the bissextus has fallen upon the business. T. F. Thiselton Dyer, "Antiquarian Gossip on the Months," The Leisure Hour
Origin of bissextus
Bissextus comes from the Latin term bissextus diēs meaning "intercalary day." It was so called because the 6th day before the Calends of March (February 24th) appeared twice every leap year.