Posted on Dec 1, 2011 in Other stuff
What is the difference between “bimonthly” and “semimonthly?” I always get these two mixed up. I know one is every other month, and one is twice per month, but which is which?
It’s okay — I hate this one too. Let’s start out by looking at the prefixes and what each of them means.
Bi– = Two
Semi– = Half
If you have trouble remembering the difference here, consider — a bicycle has two wheels. A semi-detached house is half attached.
That brings us to actual definitions of the words, courtesy of Merriam-Webster:
Bimonthly = Occurring every two months
Semimonthly = Occurring twice a month
Of course, just to add confusion to this, you’ll notice M-W also gives bimonthly a seconday definition of “twice a month.” Oh gee, thanks. However, this is a far less common use, so you should be pretty safe. I will say if you’re trying to decide which one to use in an email or newsletter to tell people when your club meeting is, for example, just tell them it’s “every other month” or “twice a month.” This will avoid a lot of confusion and people crashing the Finders Free servers to frantically look up the answer.
This works for biweekly/semiweekly and biannual/semiannual too. A semiannual sale takes place twice a year, not every two years.
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