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Michaelmas + term. The word Michaelmas is from Michael (the name of the biblical archangel) (from Late Latin Michahel, from Koine Greek Μιχαήλ (Mikhaḗl), from Biblical Hebrew מִיכָאֵל(mîḵāʾēl, who is like God?)) + -mas (suffix indicating a holiday or sacred day) (from mass, from Middle English masse, from Old English mæsse (mass (celebration of the Eucharist)), from Vulgar Latin *messa (Eucharist; dismissal), from Late Latin missa, noun use of the feminine past participle of classical Latin mittere (to send)). The Christian feast day of Michaelmas, 29 September, occurs during this term.



Michaelmas term (plural Michaelmas terms)

  1. The first term of the legal year, running from October to December, during which the upper courts of England and Wales, and Ireland, sit to hear cases.
    • 1772, Henry Barnes, “Stratford against Marshall”, in Notes of Cases in Points of Practice Taken in the Courts of Common Pleas at Westminster; from Michaelmas Term 1732, to Hilary Term 1756 inclusive. Formerly Published with the Approbation of the Judges of the said Court, in Two Volumes and a Supplement. The Second Edition Revised and Corrected; to which is Added, a Continuation of Cases to the End of the Reign of King George the Second, 2nd rev. and corr. edition, London: Printed by W[illiam] Strahan and M. Woodfall, law-printers to the King's Most Excellent Majesty; for William Owen, in Fleet-Street, OCLC 642757278, pages 440–441:
      A Rule was made for the Plaintiff to ſhew Cauſe why the Trial ſhould not be reſpited till Michaelmas Term next upon Affidavits that a material Witneſs for Defendant was gone to Sea, and was not expected home till Auguſt next. [] Per Cur[iam]: Let the Rule be abſolute, it being ſworn that the Witneſs is not expected to return till Auguſt next. The Trial muſt be put off till Michaelmas Term, without farther motion.
    • 1839, Charles [Favell Forth] Wordsworth, “Cases Determined upon the New Rules and Statutes since the Publication of the Last Edition”, in Supplement to the Rules of Court, from Michaelmas Term, 1830, to the Present Time, including those on Pleading; with All the Cases, together with Copious Notes and Forms: And an Appendix of Statutes, Passed between 1820 and 1839, including the One for Abolishing the Imprisonment for Debt, London: A. Maxwell, law bookseller to His late Majesty, OCLC 47874400, page ccccv:
      In Robinson v. Taylor, 5 Dowl. 518, which was a country cause, and issue had been joined in Easter vacation; no notice of trial for the summer assizes; it was held that it was not too early to move in the following Michaelmas term.
    • 1845, R. Levinge Swift, “Appendix. Lord Lyndhurst’s Orders of 3rd April, 1828, (Amended by Lord Brougham’s Orders, 23rd November, 1831.)”, in The Orders of the High Court of Chancery, from Hilary Term 1828 to Trinity Term 1845, as at Present Applicable to the Practice: With the Cases Decided under each Order, London: Owen Richards, law bookseller and publisher, 194. Fleet-Street, OCLC 39819865, pages 8–9:
      [Order] XIX. That whenever the time allowed for any of the following purposes, that is to say, for amending any bill, for filing, delivering, and referring exceptions to any answer, or for obtaining a Master's report upon any exceptions, would expire in the interval between the last seal after Trinity term and the first seal before Michaelmas term, or between the last seal after Michaelmas term and the first seal before Hilary term, such time shall extend to and include the day of the general seal then next ensuing.
  2. The first academic term of the universities of Oxford and Dublin, and other educational institutions, running from October to December. The term was modelled after the legal term, but does not begin and end on the same dates.
    • 1813, “University Terms, and How Many are Required to be Kept for each Degree”, in The Oxford University Calendar, for the Year 1813, Oxford: Printed by Munday and Slatter, for J. Parker; and F[rancis] C[harles] and J[ames] Rivington, London, OCLC 270591918, page 65:
      There are four terms in the year, viz. 1. Michaelmas term, which begins on the 10th of October, and ends on the 17th of December.
    • 1838, James Thomas O'Brien, “Note F.—Page 5.”, in An Introductory Lecture Delivered in the Divinity School in Trinity College, Dublin, on the First Lecture Day of Michaelmas term, 1837, Dublin: Milliken and Son, Grafton-Street, booksellers to the University; London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, OCLC 31275541, page 71:
      Archbishop King's Lecturer lectures, for the two first Terms, upon the Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion, with a special reference to the objections against them, and in the third Term, upon the Socinian Controversy. The course of his Assistants is— / Michaelmas Term.—The Gospel of St. Luke, in Greek, as the basis of a harmony. []

Usage notesEdit

  • At present in England and Wales, Michaelmas term begins on 1 October and ends on 21 December. If these dates fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the term begins on the Monday following 1 October, and ends on the Friday immediately preceding 21 December.[1] In Ireland it begins on the first Monday in October and ends on 21 December.[2]

Coordinate termsEdit

Michaelmas term • Hilary term • Easter term • Trinity term


  1. ^ “Practice Direction 39B – Court Sittings”, in Ministry of Justice[1], 16 May 2014, archived from the original on 27 March 2016, paragraphs 1.1(1)(a) and 1.1(1A).
  2. ^ “Rules of the Superior Courts”, in Courts Service Ireland[2], accessed 9 November 2016, archived from the original on 1 April 2016, Order 118(1).

Further readingEdit