One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Two; having two.‘biathlon’‘bicolored’‘binocular’
- 1.1 Occurring twice in every one.‘biannual’‘bimonthly’
- 1.2 Occurring once in every two.‘bicentennial’‘biennial’
- 1.3 Lasting for two.‘biennial’‘biennium’
- 1.4 Doubly; in two ways.‘biconcave’
- 1.5Chemistry A substance having a double proportion of the radical, group, etc., indicated by the simple word.‘bicarbonate’‘binoxalate’
- 1.6Zoology Botany (of division and subdivision) twice over.‘bipinnate’
- 1.1 Occurring twice in every one.
The meaning of bimonthly (and other similar words such as biweekly and biyearly) is ambiguous. Bimonthly, for instance, can mean either ‘occurring or produced twice a month’ or ‘occurring or produced every two months.’ So, if an organization holds bimonthly meetings, over the course of a year, will it meet six times or twenty-four times? The only way to avoid this ambiguity is to use alternative expressions like every two months and twice a month. See also biennial
From Latin, ‘doubly, having two’; related to Greek di- ‘two’.
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