ides of March

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March 15 in the ancient Roman calendar; the day in 44 b.c. on which Julius Caesar was assassinated.

Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.
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.


What is the ides of March?

The term ides of March refers to the date March 15.

In the context of the ancient Roman calendar, the word ides refers to the 15th day of March, May, July, or October, and to the 13th day of the other months.

The ides of March is the best known of these dates because it was the day on which Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 b.c.e. For this reason, it has become associated with bad omens, betrayal, and misfortune.

Relatedly, the term is often used in the expression beware the ides of March, which was popularized as a line in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. 

Example: I’m a bit superstitious, especially on dates like the ides of March.

When is the ides of March?

The ides of March is always March 15.

More information and context on the ides of March

The months of the ancient Roman calendar revolved around three key days called the ides, the nones, and the calends (whose root is the basis of the word calendar).

The calends was the first day of each month—on which debts were due. Nones originally referred to the first quarter of the moon, approximately 10 days after a new moon. However, the nones came to be the day nine days before the ides (in the calculation of these nine days, both the ides and the day of the nones were counted as part of the nine). This meant that in March, May, July, and October, the nones was the seventh day of the month, and in the other months it was the fifth day. Ides originally referred to the day of the full moon, but became the 15th day of March, May, July and October, and the 13th day of the other months.

In Shakespeare’s play about him, Julius Caesar is warned about his future betrayal by a soothsayer, who tells him to “beware the ides of March.” The expression is often used in reference to bad omens or potential betrayal, particularly in political contexts, and the ides of March carries these same associations.

What are some terms that often get used in discussing the ides of March?

How is ides of March discussed in real life?

Due to the history of the date, the ides of March is especially associated with bad omens and betrayal, especially in political contexts. It’s perhaps best known for its use in the expression beware the ides of March. Still, people sometimes simply use the term as another way of referring to March 15.


Try using ides of March!

True or False?

The date of the ides of March varies from year to year.

How to use ides of March in a sentence