"Bimonthly" vs. "Semimonthly"

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bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
In an interesting discussion on Twitter (yes, those do occur occasionally), someone posted a dictionary definition claiming that "bimonthly" means both "every two months" and "every two weeks." The correct definition is the first one.

It was pointed out that, since people don't know the meanings of words anymore, "bimonthly" has, apparently, been bent to popular usage and has, in effect, absorbed the meaning of "semimonthly" into its meaning.

I say: "Nay!"

"bimonthly" = every two months
"semimonthly" = every two weeks

Argh.
 

hammondjones

Puritan Board Junior
The boss told me I'd get paid weakly
and that''s exactly how I'm paid
Another day, another dollar
Workin' my whole life away
 

aaronsk

Puritan Board Freshman
I have never heard anyone say bi-monthly in that way. Ive only known it as bi-weekly. That being said the definition shouldn’t change to accommodate such error as it is a sad degradation of the language into something less precise.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Anyone tempted to say or write "bi-monthly" should say "every other month" instead. It's the more normal way ordinary people talk.
 

aaronsk

Puritan Board Freshman
Vocabulary is learned by interacting with new words… someday we are all going to be saying “underwater animals with gills” instead of “fish”. ;)

Logan - I may try to use fortnightly now! :rofl:

But really its good for people to learn new vocabulary even if that means they sometimes get it wrong. The meaning shouldn’t change and people should be corrected. Otherwise, learning ceases.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
I used to be adamant about how words and English must be used. Then I realized more and more just what a cobbled-together language it is.

"bi-monthly" appears to have originated at some point in the mid-1800s when someone just decided to slap a Latin prefix onto another English word. A "new" English word was created using a prefix that in Latin means "occurring twice" or "having two". If that someone had decided that it meant "occurring twice" in a month as opposed to "having two" months then we'd all be equally adamant that it must only ever be the other definition and everyone who didn't conform was wrong.

There's no objective standard to measure "proper" and "improper" usage in too many instances and I'm quite convinced that some of the words we vigorously defend today were at one point decried as improper English by our forerunners. Such is the messy reality. That said, I will still try to do what I think is "proper" and try to convince others to as well ;)
 

aaronsk

Puritan Board Freshman
Fair enough! I just don't want to see us stop using "hard" words. This will leave us in a world of even more wordy English than we have now. Not to say I am some guru of the language (I am very much not)!
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Convince everyone to say "fortnightly"
There are 26 fortnights but only 24 half monthlies in a year. So let's make a deal - I give you $1 twice a month, and you give me $1 every fortnight. And at the end of the year, I'll have enough money to buy a soft drink.
 
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