[ dih-sem-ber ]
/ dɪˈsɛm bər /
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the twelfth month of the year, containing 31 days. Abbreviation: Dec.
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Origin of December

before 1000; Middle English decembre<Old French <Latin december (stem decembr-) the tenth month of the early Roman year, apparently <*dec(em)-membri-, equivalent to decemten + *-membri-<mens- month + -ri- suffix (with -sr->-br- and assimilation of nasal)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is December?

December is the twelfth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. It has 31 days and is between November and January.

In the Northern Hemisphere, winter begins in December, while in the Southern Hemisphere, summer begins.

A solstice happens in December, often marked on December 21, although the actual day may be December 20, 21, or 22. A solstice is when the sun is the farthest from the Earth’s celestial equator. The Southern Hemisphere experiences its summer solstice, with the sun reaching the southernmost point on the celestial sphere. Naturally, the Northern Hemisphere experiences its winter solstice.

Many holidays are celebrated in December, including the Budhhist Bodhi Day, the Jewish Hanukkah (though it can start in November), the Christian Christmas, and the African American Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, while Bodhi Day, Hanukkah, and Christmas are religious holidays, though many people celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas as cultural holidays.

Example: December is my favorite month because I can finally take some time off work and be with my family.

Where does December come from?

The first records of the word December come from before 1000. It ultimately comes from the Latin December, meaning “tenth month.”

In the 10-month Roman calendar, which started with March, December was the tenth month. When Julius Caesar took control of Rome, he changed the length of some months and added new ones because January was falling in autumn due to the calendar’s inaccuracies. He added Quintilis, later to become July (named after Julius), and Sextilis, which would later become August (named after Augustus Caesar). This is how December went from being the tenth month to the twelfth. Our Gregorian calendar is based on this Julius calendar.

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What are some other forms related to December?

  • Dec. (abbreviation)

What are some words that share a root or word element with December

What are some words that often get used in discussing December?

How is December used in real life?

Many countries and cultures celebrate a holiday in December.


Try using December!

True or False? 

December is named after the Latin word for ten.

How to use December in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for December

/ (dɪˈsɛmbə) /

the twelfth and last month of the year, consisting of 31 days

Word Origin for December

C13: from Old French decembre, from Latin december the tenth month (the Roman year originally began with March), from decem ten
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