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Does “Bimonthly” Mean Twice A Month Or Every Two Months?

Both!  Bimonthly can refer to something happening “every two months” or “twice a month.” Yep, bimonthly has, fittingly enough, two meanings.

What does bi– mean?

The prefix bi- means “two,” from the Latin bis, “twice.” The suffix -ly, which usually forms adverbs, is used in bimonthly to mean “every.” It’s used in the same way in several other units of time, including hourly, daily, monthly, and yearly.

What does bimonthly mean?

The first records of the word bimonthly come from the 1800s. A bimonthly publication can come out two times a month (on the second and last Friday, for instance) or every two months (January, then March, then May, and so on).

Different prefixes can be added to monthly to indicate a different period of time, such as in trimonthly (every three months or three times a month) and semimonthly (twice a month). When intended to mean “twice a month,” bimonthly is sometimes replaced with semimonthly for clarity, but this might not help, especially since semimonthly is much less common.

Dive deeper into the meaning of bimonthly here.

What does biweekly mean?

Now, what if your boss schedules biweekly meetings with you? Does that mean they occur twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday, for instance) or that you meet one time every two weeks (the first and last Mondays of the month, say)? It could mean both!

Then there’s biannual. A biannual event could take place twice a year (June, then December, for example) or every other year (2019, 2021, etc.). Honestly, we don’t even know what time it is, anymore.

Find out what other words are related to biweekly here!

Is there a clearer way to indicate dates?

Enter semi, a prefix meaning “half” (also from Latin). Semimonthly is generally taken as “twice a month,” as if it cuts the month in half. Semiweekly happens “twice a week.” Semiyearly or semiannual falls “twice a year.”

If these words don’t come quickly to mind, you can always just be specific: “I’m setting up meetings twice a week” or “Let’s meet every other week.”

Or, you can take a page from British English’s playbook and use fortnightly. A fortnight is a period of two weeks. Fun fact: the fort in fortnight has nothing to do with Fort McHenry or the pillow forts you built as a kid. The word is smushed down from the Middle English fourtennight, from Old English fēowertēne niht—the span of fourteen nights (days).

If all else fails, context, context, context! If you get a new job that pays biweekly, odds are—given how the world works and all—you get paid every other week. But hey, if you want to pay us twice a week, go ahead then!

While we’re on this note …

WATCH: What Does Working On Commission Mean?

What's my age again? Learn the impressive names for each decade here.

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