From Middle English calendes, calendas, calendis, kalandes, kalendas, kalendes, kalendez, kalendis, kalendus (also in the singular forms calende, kalend, kalende),[1][2] from Latin kalendās, accusative plural of kalendae (first day of a Roman month),[2] an archaic variant of calandae, from calandus (which is to be called or announced solemnly), the future passive participle of calō (to call, announce solemnly) (referring to the Roman practice of proclaiming the first days of the lunar month upon seeing the first signs of a new crescent moon), from Proto-Indo-European *kelh₁- (to call, cry, summon). Although the singular form calend (now obsolete, rare) appeared in English (and compare Old English calend, kalendus (calends; a month)), no singular form was used in Latin as recurring days of the calendar were always referred to in the plural.[3]

Sense 2 (“a day for settling debts and other accounts”) refers to the Roman practice of fixing the calends as the day for debts to be paid.[4]



calends pl (plural only)

  1. Often with initial capital: the first day of a month
    Synonyms: Kal., first calends (rare)
    The third day before the calends of February is 30 January, the third calends of March is 27 or 28 February, and the third of the calends of May is 29 April.
    1. (historical, Ancient Rome) the first day of a month of the Roman calendar.
    • 1679, Joseph Moxon, “Calends”, in Mathematicks Made Easie: Or, A Mathematical Dictionary, Explaining the Terms of Art, and Difficult Phrases Used in Arithmetick, Geometry, Astronomy, Astrology, and Other Mathematical Sciences. [], London: Printed for Joseph Moxon, [], OCLC 79309710, page 26:
      The Roman Month its ſeveral days divides / By reckoning backwards, Calends, Nones, and Ides.
    • 1694, Samuel Johnson, “Of the Kalends of May”, in An Essay Concerning Parliaments at a Certainty; or, The Kalends of May, 2nd edition, London: Printed for the author; to be sold by Richard Baldwin, OCLC 1086526030, page 30:
      Now by the ſame Rule, if there was a very Ancient Folkmote in the Neighbouring Kingdom of France upon every Kalends of May, then perhaps King Arthur borrowed from them; and it is good to look upon our Kalends, becauſe it is poſſible they may give Light to Ours.
    • 1851, Henry T[homas] Riley, “Introduction. [On the Reckoning of Time among the Romans.]”, in Ovid; Henry T. Riley, transl., The Fasti, Tristia, Pontic Epstles, Ibis, and Halieuticon of Ovid. Literally Translated into English Prose, with Copious Notes, London: H[enry] G[eorge] Bohn, [], OCLC 1026487554, pages xiii–xiv:
      The Romans did not, as we do, count the days of the month in a regular numerical succession, but reckoned them with reference to three principal points of time—the Calends, the Nones, and Ides. The first day of every month was entitled its Calends. [...] The Calends were originally the day of the new moon, which received its name from the fact that on that day the Pontifex addressed the moon in presence of the people, in the words "Calo te, Jana Novella," "I call upon thee, new moon," which was repeated as many times as intimated to his hearers the number of days before the arrival of the Nones.
    • 1852, John Whitgift, “Of the Communion Book. Tract IX. The General Faults Examined wherewith the Public Service is Charged by T[homas] C[artwright]”, in John Ayre, editor, The Works of John Whitgift, D.D., [] The Second Portion, Containing the Defence of the Answer to the Admonition against the Reply of Thomas Cartwright: Tractates VII–X (Publications of the Parker Society; no. 48), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Printed at the University Press, OCLC 912909502, chapter i, 8th division, page 447:
      Let it not be lawful to use wicked observations of the calends, and to keep the gentiles' holy-days, nor to deck houses with bays or green boughs; for all this is an heathenish observation.
    • 1911 March, E. C. Vansittart, “Some Roman Festivals and Customs: Ancient and Modern”, in The Antiquary: A Magazine Devoted to the Study of the Past, volume XLVII, London: Elliot Stock, [], OCLC 989990587, pages 90–91:
      Among the ancient Romans it was an annual institution for every family to give a banquet, to which only near relatives were bidden. On this occasion family feuds were healed, and all envy, hatred, and malice, laid aside; as an emblem of restored harmony, gifts were interchanged. This ceremony took place during the festival known as Carisia, held in honour of the goddess Concord, and was celebrated during the eight days preceding the Calends of March (February 22 to March 1).
    • 1920 January 2, “General. Live Stock Lore of the Months.”, in Live Stock Journal, volume XCI, number 2387, London: Vinton & Co., OCLC 1586180, section I (January), page 20, column 3:
      If January calends be summerly gay, / 'Twill be winterly weather till the calend of May.
    • 1923, François Béroalde de Verville, “Origin of the Decretals”, in Arthur Machen, transl., Fantastic Tales or The Way to Attain—a Book Full of Pantagruelism Now Done for the First Time in English, Carbonnek [i.e., London]: Privately printed, OCLC 3863239, page 98:
      Blockheads, friends of my heart and liver, cousins of my tripe, are you ignorant that this symposium is as authentic as any of those tales of the Greek Calends, which you swallow and digest so easily, [...]?
    • 1950 January 12, C[live] S[taples] Lewis, “Letters: 1950 [To Sister Penelope CSMV (BOD)]”, in Walter Hooper, editor, The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, volume III (Narnia, Cambridge and Joy 1950–1963), New York, N.Y.: HarperSanFrancisco, HarperCollins, published 2007, →ISBN, pages 5–6:
      My book with Professor [John Ronald Reuel] Tolkien – any book in collaboration with that great but dilatory and unmethodical man – is dated, I fear, to appear on the Greek Kalends!
    • 1967, Agnes Kirsopp Michels, “The Pre-Julian Calendar”, in The Calendar of the Roman Republic, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, OCLC 639126828, part I (The Calendar of the First Century B.C.), page 21:
      The interesting thing about these ceremonies is that they must have originated in a period when the Romans were using true lunar months based on the observation of the crescent moon. The Kalends then would have been the day after the evening on which the crescent had been first sighted, the Nones would have been the first day when the moon was at the first quarter [...] In the calendar of the late Republic the lunar months have disappeared and the days have been fixed into a rigid pattern.
    • 2011, Macrobius, chapter 14, in Robert A. Kaster, transl., Saturnalia (Loeb Classical Library), Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press, →ISBN, book I, section 9, page 171:
      [March, May, Quintilis, and October] also have their Nones on the seventh, as [[wikipedia:Numa [Pompilius|Numa [Pompilius]] ordained, because [[wikipedia:Julius [Caesar|Julius [Caesar]] changed nothing about them. As for January, Sextilis, and December, they still have their Nones on the fifth, though they began to have thirty-one days after Caesar added two days to each, and it is nineteen days from their Ides to the following Kalends, because in adding the two days Caesar did not want to insert them before either the Nones or the Ides, lest an unprecedented postponement mar religious observance associated with the Nones or Ides themselves, which have a fixed date.
  2. (by extension) A day for settling debts and other accounts.
  3. (by extension, biblical, Judaism, obsolete) Synonym of Rosh Hodesh (the Jewish festival of the new moon, which begins the months of the Hebrew calendar)
    • 1809, Claude Fleury, “Their Religion”, in Adam Clarke, transl., The Manners of the Ancient Israelites; [], 3rd edition, London: Sold by William Baynes, []; J[oseph] Butterworth, []; and T. Blanshard, [], OCLC 228685334, page 147:
      The feasts of the Israelites were the Sabbath; the first day of each month, called in our translations calends, or new-moon; the three great feasts of the passover, pentecost, and tabernacles, instituted in memory of the three greatest blessings they received from God, [...]
    • 1846, [Wilhelm] Gesenius, “חֹדֶשׁ”, in Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, transl., Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures. Translated, with Additions and Corrections from the Author’s Thesaurus and Other Works, London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, [], OCLC 993914401, page CCLXIII, column 1:
      חֹדֶשׁ m. [...] the new moon, the day of the new moon, the calends of a lunar month which was a festival of the ancient Hebrews, Num[bers] 29:6; 1 Sam[uel] 20:5; 18:24; Ex[odus] 19:1, [...]
  4. (rare) Synonym of calendar; (figuratively) an account, a record.
  5. (figuratively, obsolete) The first day of something; a beginning.
    • 1909, A[rthur] W[ade] Wade-Evans, “English Translation of Harleian Ms. 4353 (V) with the Missing Leaves Supplied from Cleopatra A xiv (W)”, in Welsh Medieval Law: Being a Text of the Laws of Howel the Good: [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: At the Clarendon Press, OCLC 314013589, page 220:
      Whoever shall sell a calf or a yearling, let him be answerable against the scab from the calends of winter until the Feast of Patrick.
Usage notesEdit

English use of the Roman calendrical term always employs the Romans’ inclusive dating, including the calends itself when counting. Thus, the “third day before the calends of January” (a.d. iii Kal. Ian.) is 30 December: two days before 1 January, not three.

English usage also often follows the Latin contraction of the phrasing, which omits the words ante diem. The 30th of December may appear as the “third calends of January” or the “third of the calends of January”. Thus, the “second calends” (pridie kalendas) of a month is the last day of the month before it; the “third calends” (tertia kalendas) is the day before that; and so on.[5] Because Julius Caesar did not want to move the religious holidays set by nones and ides of the months, he inserted all the additional days of his calendar reform in various places before the calends of the months. The Roman leap day was similarly intercalated as a “second sixth calends” on 25 February in order to avoid affecting the existing holidays of that month.

The variant spelling kalends is more common in modern classical scholarship, reflecting the Roman preference for that spelling.

Alternative formsEdit

Coordinate termsEdit

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit




  1. (obsolete, rare) plural of calend


  1. ^ calende(s, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 25 July 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 calends, kalends, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1888; “calends, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  3. ^ Benjamin Hall Kennedy, “Morphology”, in The Public School Latin Grammar for the Use of Schools, Colleges, and Private Students, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1871, OCLC 19449174, section I (Flexion), § 27 (Anomalous Nouns), page 66; Agnes Kirsopp Michels, “The Pre-Julian Calendar”, in The Calendar of the Roman Republic, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967, OCLC 639126828, part I (The Calendar of the First Century B.C.), page 19.
  4. ^ T[homas] Wilson, “Interest”, in An Archæological Dictionary; Or, Classical Antiquities of the Jews, Greeks, and Romans, Alphabetically Arranged: [], 2nd edition, London: Printed for D. Ogilvy, [et al.], 1793, OCLC 221116755, column 2:
    Interest of money, was commonly paid by the Romans on the calends, for they imagined the days after the nones, ides, and calends, unfortunate, but it is more than probable the poor wretches, who had it not in their power to ſatisfy their creditors, would look upon the calends as the moſt unlucky day in all the month. Calends were fixed upon as days of payment, becauſe it was cuſtomary to lend money at ſo much per cent. per month.
  5. ^ A complete chart of these dates following the Julian reform is available at “Roman Calendar: Conversion to Our Calendar”, in website of Paul Lewis[1], 1999–2005, archived from the original on 3 June 2018.

Further readingEdit