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Dutchess_III's avatar

What is "bi-weekly?"?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42477points) September 3rd, 2016

This confuses me. To me, “bi-weekly” means twice a week, but people use it to mean “every two weeks.” To me, “every two weeks” should be “bi-monthly,” twice a month.

So, please help me out here.



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17 Answers

imrainmaker's avatar

Both meanings are’s link from Meerriam Webster

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Fortnight woks for me.

monthly's avatar

That’s why I don’t use the term. I say, “Twice a week” or “Twice a month”.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Both meanings are’s link from Meerriam Webster

That’s funny. I have never seen such a blatant contradiction in the dictionary. Yeah, I avoid the term. Also I never use 12PM and 12AM, always noon or midnight.

ragingloli's avatar

you could also use the 24 hour scale

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Weekly that is by curious.

zenvelo's avatar

Bi means two; bi weekly is every two weeks.

If you want to say twice a week, say semi weekly.

If something is biennial, it is every two years, not every six months.

Consider the prefix as a multiplier.

That dictionary was edited by someone who is innumerate.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Even if there were one definition for the word biweekly, it wouldn’t matter, because you could never be sure whether the person saying it (or the person you’re saying it to) knew that definition. Some words are just useless like that.

Stinley's avatar

In the Uk if someone said bi-weekly, I would assume twice a week because we would use fortnightly usually for every two weeks, but as I am never sure what it meand, i would ask them to clarify. I wouldn’t be embarassed to ask!

Dutchess_III's avatar

@zenvelo I am aware that “bi” means two. So why wouldn’t it mean twice a week?

zenvelo's avatar

@Dutchess_III The “bi-” prefix modifies the word weekly, so two weeks. Same as bi ennial means every two years, bi cycle means two wheels, bi valve means two valves,

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know that “bi” means two.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Bisect means divide into two.

ragingloli's avatar

And Bison means a son who likes both men and women.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@zenvelo The prefix is acknowledged to be ambiguous by every authority I’ve checked. This is not a case of one innumerate dictionary. This is not a stupid question.

For entertainment purposes, here is the entry from Fowler’s Modern English Usage, which is a favourite of mine because it is so snarky. This is from the revised edition (1965):

bi- prefixed to English words of time (bi-hourly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, bi-quarterly, bi-yearly) gives words that have no merits and two faults: they are unsightly hybrids, and they are ambiguous. To judge from the OED, the first means only two-hourly; the second and third mean both two-weekly, two-monthly, and half-weekly, half-monthly; and the last two mean only half-quarterly, half-yearly. Under these desperate circumstances we can never know where we are.

If it were not for bicentenary, which lacks a vernacular equivalent, there would be no reason why all the bi- hybrids should not be allowed to perish, and the natural and unambiguous two-hourly and half-hourly, fortnightly and half-weekly, two-monthly, and half-monthly, half-yearly and half-quarterly, two-yearly and half-yearly, of which several are already common, be used regularly in place of them and the words (biennial, bimestrial) on which they were fashioned; these latter have now almost become ambiguous themselves from the ambiguity of the misshapen brood sprung of them.

They cause confusion in the most surprising places. “An annual bulletin is our first aim; but biennial issues may become possible if the Association enlarges as we hope”. (From a bulletin issued by the International Association of University Professors of English.)

Biannual, probably invented to stand to biennial as half-yearly to two-yearly, is sometimes confused with and sometimes distinguished from it. Half-yearly is the right word.

zenvelo's avatar

@dappled_leaves Despite my hard nosed stand in previous responses, I do not disagree with you. Your answer enforces my belief that English majors need stay away from any discussions regarding numbers.

I personally stay away from rom bi- as much as possible. I prefer to say “every two weeks” or “twice a week.”

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