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Alternative forms




From Middle English Februarie, februari, februare, from Latin Februārius (the month of the Februa), from Februa (the Purgings, the Purifications), a Roman holiday two days after its ides (i.e., Feb. 15), + -arius (-ary: forming adjectives). Februa from februum (purging), from an earlier Sabine [Term?] word, possibly from Proto-Indo-European *dʰewh₂- (smoke, haze) and thus cognate with thio- (sulfurous) and Ancient Greek θεῖον (theîon, sulfur) or from Proto-Indo-European *dʰegʷʰris, an extension of the root *dʰegʷʰ- (to burn) and thus cognate with fever and febris. A relatinization abandoning Middle English feoverel, from Old French feverier, which itself displaced Old English solmonað (mud month).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈfɛb.ɹʊ.ə.ɹi/, /ˈfɛb.j(ʊ.)ə.ɹi/, /ˈfɛb.ɹə.ɹi/, /ˈfɛb.ɹi/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈfɛb.ɹuˌɛɹi/, /ˈfɛb.juˌɛ(ə)ɹi/; enPR: fĕbʹro͞o-ĕr'-ē, fĕbʹyo͞o-ĕr'-ē
  • Audio (General American):(file)
  • Audio (UK):(file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛbɹi
  • Hyphenation: Feb‧ru‧ary[1]
  • The pronunciation of the first r as /j/ has come about by dissimilation and analogy with January. In the UK pronunciation /ˈfɛb.ɹi/ (*Febry) the sequence /ɹə.ɹi/ in /ˈfɛb.ɹə.ɹi/ (*Febrery) is simplified to /ɹi/ by haplology.

Proper noun


February (plural Februaries or Februarys)

  1. The short month following January and preceding March in the Roman, Julian, and Gregorian calendars, used in all three calendars for intercalation or addition of leap days.
    • 2011, Robert A. Kaster trans. Macrobius, Saturnalia, Book I, Chapter xiii, Sections 3–5:
      ...The second he [sc. King Numa] dedicated to the god Februus, who is believed to control rites of purification: the community had to be purified in that month, when he determined that the Good Gods be paid the offerings due them... Numa soon added one day to January, paying honor to the mystery of the odd number that nature revealed even before Pythagoras: as a result, both the year as a whole and the individual months (save February) had an odd number of days. (If all twelve months had either an odd or even number of days, their total would be an even number...)
    • 2011, Robert A. Kaster trans. Macrobius, Saturnalia, Book I, Chapter xiii, Sections 14–15:
      February was set aside for the intercalation because it was the last month of the year... They departed from the Greeks in one respect, however: whereas the latter intercalated when the final month was over, the Romans intercalated after the twenty-third day of February, at the conclusion of the Terminalia. They then added on the last five days of February after the intercalary period, acting on the religious scruple of ancient custom, I think, so that March would follow on February no matter what.
    • 2011, Robert A. Kaster trans. Macrobius, Saturnalia, Book I, Chapter xiv, Sections 6–7:
      Julius Caesar, then, added ten days to the old practice, so that the 365 days in which the sun circles the zodiac would make a year; and to account for the one-quarter day, he ordained that the priests who attended to the months and days would insert one day every fourth year, in the same month and place where the ancients used to intercalate a month, that is, before the last five days of February, and he decreed that it be called the 'twice sixth'... he added no days to February, so that the religious observances offered to the gods of the dead would not be changed...
    Susan was born on February 29.
  2. (rare) A female given name transferred from the month name [in turn from English].
    • 2011, Kristen Ashley, For You:
      “Cheryl, the man in this photo is a Mr. Dennis Lowe. He worked for a computer software company and he was married. He was impersonating a police officer, a real one by the name of Alexander Colton. He was doing this because he's obsessed with a woman named February—” Nowakowski stopped talking because Cheryl Sheckle's body jerked violently and she let out a muted cry. [] “It isn't a nickname, Cheryl. It's a real person, her name is February Owens and he's been obsessed with her since they went to high school together.”
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:February.

Derived terms






See also



  1. ^ Hyphenation exception log, Barbara Beeton, 2015, online at [1]