Posted by: episystechpubs | July 31, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Biweekly and Bimonthly

The other day, I received an email asking if I’d heard biweekly means both “twice a week” and “every two weeks.” Oh yes, I’ve heard about it and read about it, and I’ve also been in a roomful of writers trying to confuse each other using the term. What an extra special kind of fun that was, dear readers.

Here are the definitions of biweekly and a similar word, bimonthly, from Merriam-Webster:

biweekly

1. occurring twice a week

2. occurring every two weeks : fortnightly [KC – I think we should take this opportunity to start using
fortnightly more often!]

bimonthly

1. occurring every two months

2. occurring twice a month : semimonthly [KC – Semimonthly means twice a month, not how long it takes to cross the states in an 18-wheeler.]

And here is a brief article on the topic, also from Merriam-Webster:

What do bimonthly and biweekly mean?

Many people are puzzled about bimonthly and biweekly, which are often ambiguous because they are formed from two different senses of bi-: “occurring every two” and “occurring two times.” This ambiguity has been in existence for nearly a century and a half and cannot be eliminated by the dictionary. The chief difficulty is that many users of these words assume that others know exactly what they mean, and they do not bother to make their context clear. So if you need bimonthly or biweekly, you should leave some clues in your context to the sense of bi- you mean. And if you need the meaning “twice a,” you can substitute semi- for bi-.

I think to be safe, I’d do a little more than drop a hint so people know what you’re talking about. Unless, of course, your clue is “I’ll see you twice a week,” “I’ll see you every other week,” or “Let’s meet fortnightly, Mr. Lincoln, so we can have tea parties twice a month!”

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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