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bi- means both twice and two, so as it pertains to that note about the week, yes it does refer to the week, every two weeks and twice weekly. - TheDaveRoss


To avoid confusion in this particular case we are fortunate enough to have another word to mean once every two weeks cf: fortnightly. Similarly we have biannual for twice a year and biennial for once every two years. Jonny

Bah! Only you crazy Brits have the term fortnightly - on this side of the pond, there is no such thing. Come to think of it, I was wondering where biennial came certainly smells like it too is used only across the Atlantic. --Connel MacKenzie 06:51, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Much more to the point the Latin root of the word Bi is two not twice therefore Bi-annual means every two years. If you wanted to imply twice yearly you could use semi-annual though semi in Latin meant part of a year and not necessarily half so semi-annual could also cover quarterly. Remember Bi-sexuals are not attracted to half a sex they are attracted to two sexes.

Wrong. Both prefixes come from roots meaning "twice". "Bi" comes from the Latin "bis" meaning twice. "Di" comes from the Greek "δίς" meaning twice.--ShyamBhakta (talk) 06:55, 6 March 2018 (UTC)

And for those of you the wrong side of the pond! Only an American would forget that the language is called "English" and not "American" so by definition any "English" word(s) are available for use in the language correctly regardless of if an American would understand their meaning (;¬)

And no Colour does have a 'u' in it.

PS. Biennial means "a two year period" which is distinct and different from Bi-annual which means "two yearly". The first is a length of time, the latter is a frequency.

Ian M.

Uh-huh, the problem here is that you've confused language as used and spoken with your personal opinion. Equinox 14:55, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

Why not just say 'twice a week' or ' once every two weeks'. I don't see what being British or American has to do with that... I guess some people just love conflict, and who more than the British and Americans?! J Stone 27/09/2014

Further to the pointEdit

I also found the following in Fowler under "bi-"

bi- prefixed to English words of time... gives words that have no merits & two faults. They are unsightly hybrids & they are ambiguous... Under these desperate circumstances we can never know where we are. There is no reason why the bi- hybrids should not be allowed to perish, & the natural & unambiguous two-hourly & half-hourly, fortnightly & half-weekly... be used regularly in place of them.

Fowler had firm views, but don't we all. -Unsigned

He also seems to use the ampersand in running unsightly :p - TheDaveRoss

Twice-weekly vs. twice weeklyEdit

Why do British (and presumably Commonwealth) English speakers make a distinction between twice-weekly and twice weekly? I think that distinction simply does not exist in AmE. --Connel MacKenzie 17:13, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

I don't think the distinction exists in general British English. We would say "two-weekly" (or fortnightly) if we intended once every two weeks. I don't think even the most pedantic Englishman would read anything other than a very fine shade of meaning into the distinction between twice-weekly and twice weekly.

"Bi-weekly" perhaps means the same as twice-weekly more often in England than in the USA, but it is ambiguous in both countries.Dbfirs 22:34, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
I've only ever used bi-weekly the same as "Twice-Weekly" and have never seen it used as 'twice-monthly'. Personal anecdote yes, but perhaps it was more common in Older English.

RFC noteEdit

Looking at this article, I thought for sure what I was reading was a joke. Everyone knows that semi-weekly means every-one-half-a-week and biweekly means every-other-week.

Apparently, someone has been SO descriptivistic that they included the common missuse of referring to an activity done twice a week as "biweekly" even though you cannot use the term in that way, without causing confusion.

Instead of trying to destroy valid terms, and prescribe against using them, shouldn't we list the way the word is supposed to be used? What it is supposed to be is {something} every two weeks. Not two {somethings} per week. The week has the "bi-" prefix, not the {somethings}.

Semiweekly is not quite an antonym. It is an inverse, but for now, I just put it in ===See also===.

This needs a little more review, as the translations seem to have been added when the misleading definitions were? --Connel MacKenzie 22:15, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Those who are "so descriptivistic" include American Heritage, OED, Cambridge International, and Encarta, as well as that most authoritative personage in the English language: yours truly. - TheDaveRoss 22:19, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Is it perhaps a common missuse only in the UK then? --Connel MacKenzie 22:35, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Well, OED is a UK dictionary, and the rest American, all four list it. See also OED on bimonthly - TheDaveRoss
Wow! I didn't realize we should be checking usage notes themselves for possible copyvio.
I've tried again, this time including the obscene incorrect usages, just noted appropriately. Could someone please check the translation numbering now? --Connel MacKenzie 22:54, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)
A word means what it's user wants it to mean, such is the way with a living language. Common mis-use is soon acceptable use. The cat will not go back into the bag. 22:38, 30 May 2017 (UTC)


Clearly the biweekly meaning 1 per 2 weeks or 2 per 1 week is a problem. Obviously there are uses for both. Would it be possible for biweekly to mean once per two weeks, and a term like diweekly (di also meaning 2) to refer to twice per week? Di- seems to be synonymous with bi, though in practice there are strange rules I don't understand on where each is appropriate (disexual? bivide?) Tyciol 01:17, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

Diweekly is not in any of the dictionaries and has no usage to speak of, which seems fatal. I would recommend "every two weeks" and "twice weekly" for the adverb. "Semiweekly" is unambiguous in all parts of speech. American English does not seem to have a broadly recognised synonym for fortnightly. Semimonthly is almost right. You may have to use a circumlocution for clarity where you might prefer a single word parallel to daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly. DCDuring TALK 02:48, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

Confusion about the root word 'weekly'Edit

Most of you have correctly pointed out that the latin prefix 'bi' can be defined as

"a combining form meaning “twice,” “two,” used in the formation of compound words" [Cambridge Dictionary]

What you don't seem to be discussing is the word that the prefix is applied to : 'weekly' :

"happening once a week or every week" [Cambridge Dictionary]

Now I don't see any circumstance where you could interpret any of the possible combined meanings :

"twice happening once a week"

"twice once a week"

"twice every week"

as meaning "hapenning once every two weeks".

I would go so far as to argue that the definition "happening once a week" is a naive one and misses the point of the word "weekly" , which is the *repetition* of something that happens once in the regular interval of time defined as a "week". In fact, the phrase "once a week" can be more accurately said "once every week" , or "having an occurrence every week". In which case it becomes even more clear :

"twice having an occurrence every week"


"twice once every week"

There is no doubt about it : "biweekly" means "two (bi) [of] an occurrence every week (weekly)"

Magicalhack (talk) 16:56, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

Language isn't logical. "Biweekly" means what it means, even if it wasn't formed in a way that you like. Equinox 16:59, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
Return to "biweekly" page.