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For other uses, see Fortnight (disambiguation).

A fortnight is a unit of time equal to 14 days (2 weeks). The word derives from the Old English: fēowertyne niht, meaning "fourteen nights".[1][2] Fortnight and fortnightly are commonly used words in the English-speaking world. Some wages, salaries, and social security benefits are paid on a fortnightly basis;[3] however in North America it is far more common to use the term biweekly. Note that neither of these terms should not be confused with semimonthly, which results in 24 pay periods (12 months × 2), instead of the 26 (52 weeks ÷ 2) of fortnightly/biweekly.[4]


For more information see eclipse cycle.

In astronomy, a fortnight is half a synodic month[citation needed], the mean time between a full moon and a new moon (and vice versa). This is equal to 14.77 days.[5][6]

In other languages[edit]

In many languages there is no single word for a two-week period, and the equivalent terms "two weeks", "14 days" or "15 days" (counting inclusively) have to be used.

  • Celtic languages: in Welsh, the term pythefnos, meaning "15 nights", is used instead. This is in keeping with the Welsh term for a week, which is wythnos ("eight nights"). In Irish, the term is coicís.
  • Similarly in Greek the term δεκαπενθήμερο (dekapenthímero), meaning "15 days", is used.
  • The Hindu calendar uses the Sanskrit word "paksha", meaning one half of a lunar month, which is between 14 and 15 solar days.
  • In Romance languages there are the terms quincena (or quince días) in Galician and Spanish, quinzena in Catalan and Portuguese, quindicina in Italian, quinze jours or quinzaine in French, and chenzinǎ in Romanian, all meaning "15 days"; there are also the terms bisettimanale in Italian, bisemanal in Spanish, bissemanal in Portuguese, bisetmanal in Catalan, bihebdomadaire in French, and bisǎptǎmânal in Romanian, that literally mean "biweekly".
  • Semitic languages have a special "doubling suffix". When added at the end of the word for "week" it changes the meaning to "two weeks". In Hebrew, the single-word שבועיים (shvu′ayim) means exactly "two weeks". Also in Arabic, by adding the common dual suffix to the word for "week", أسبوع, the form أسبوعين (usbu′ayn), meaning "two weeks", is formed.
  • Slavic languages: in Czech the terms čtrnáctidenní and dvoutýdenní have the same meaning as "fortnight".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fortnight". The Concise Oxford Dictionary (5th ed.). 1964. p. 480. 
  2. ^ Senight, sennight or se'night (seven-night), an old word for the week, was still in use in the early 19th century, to judge from Jane Austen's letters.
  3. ^ "Australian Government - How much Disability Support Pension do I get?". Archived from the original on 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  4. ^ Steven Bragg (22 June 2010). "What is the difference between a semimonthly and biweekly payroll?". AccountingTools. Retrieved 23 November 2015. Semimonthly is paid 24 times per year, and the biweekly is paid 26 times per year. 
  5. ^ Littmann, Mark; Fred Espenak; Ken Willcox (2008). Totality: Eclipses of the Sun. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-953209-5. 
  6. ^ Synodic Month definition Eric W. Weisstein