How the Month of July Got Its Name

Julius Caesar

The month of July, unlike June, is named for a mortal, albeit one who devised and ruled an empire. Julius Caesar was a Roman general, statesman, and historian who conquered Gaul (what is now part of Italy, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands), changed the structure of the Roman government into a dictatorship, was assassinated in legendary fashion, and most importantly for our purposes, helped make the calendar what it is today.

Caesar is responsible for the year as we know it having 365 days, and for the existence of a leap year every four years. How did this Julian Calendar change things? The early Roman calendar had an intercalary month called Intercalans that was 27 or 28 days long, added once every two years after February 23rd. For years including Intercalans, the remaining five days of February were omitted. Our contemporary calendar is still pretty much the same system Caesar instituted more than 2000 years ago.

Who is July named for?

July was named in honor of Julius Caesar. When Julius Caesar died, Quintilis, which was his birth month, was renamed with July. Quintilis means “fifth month” in Latin, which represents where this month originally fell in the Roman calendar.

(If you think the story behind July is odd, check out  why Tuesday is Tiw’s Day.)

Another of Julius Caesar’s legacies is the C section. The Cesarean section is “an operation by which a fetus is taken from the uterus by cutting through the walls of the abdomen and uterus.” It has been rumored that Julius Caesar himself was born in this way, although historians tend to pooh-pooh this etymology.

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