\ \ [13] The ancient Germanic peoples recorded the passing of time in units of ‘nights’ rather than, as we do, in units of ‘days’: hence a period of two weeks was in Old English fēowertīene niht, or ‘fourteen nights’. By early Middle English times this was starting to be contracted to the single word fortnight. (The parallel sennightweek’ [15] – literally ‘seven nights’ – survived dialectally into the 20th century.)

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.


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  • Fortnight — Fort night (?; in U.S. often ?; 277), n. [Contr. fr. fourteen nights, our ancestors reckoning time by nights and winters; so, also, seven nights, sennight, a week.] The space of fourteen days; two weeks. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • fortnight — 17c. contraction of M.E. fourteniht, from O.E. feowertyne niht, lit. fourteen nights, preserving the ancient Germanic custom of reckoning by nights, mentioned by Tacitus in Germania xi. Related: Fortnightly …   Etymology dictionary

  • fortnight — ► NOUN chiefly Brit. ▪ a period of two weeks. ORIGIN Old English, «fourteen nights» …   English terms dictionary

  • fortnight — [fôrt′nīt΄] n. [ME fourte(n) niht < OE feowertyn niht, lit., fourteen nights] Chiefly Brit. a period of two weeks …   English World dictionary

  • fortnight — noun (BrE) ADJECTIVE ▪ next ▪ last, past, previous ▪ whole VERB + FORTNIGHT ▪ spend …   Collocations dictionary

  • fortnight */*/ — UK [ˈfɔː(r)tnaɪt] / US [ˈfɔrtˌnaɪt] noun [countable] Word forms fortnight : singular fortnight plural fortnights British a period of two weeks a fortnight away from home a fortnight s holiday once a fortnight (= every two weeks): I see her once a …   English dictionary

  • Fortnight — The fortnight is a unit of time equivalent to fourteen days. The word derives from the Old English feorwertyne niht , meaning fourteen nights . [The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 5th Edition, 1964, p. 480] [ Senight , sennight or se night (seven… …   Wikipedia

  • fortnight — fort|night S3 [ˈfo:tnaıt US ˈfo:rt ] n [C usually singular] BrE [: Old English; Origin: feowertyne niht fourteen nights ] two weeks ▪ a fortnight s holiday ▪ in a fortnight s time ▪ a fortnight ago …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • fortnight — fort|night [ fɔrt,naıt ] noun count BRITISH a period of two weeks: once a fortnight (=every two weeks): I see her once a fortnight …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • fortnight — [[t]fɔ͟ː(r)tnaɪt[/t]] fortnights N COUNT A fortnight is a period of two weeks. [mainly BRIT] I hope to be back in a fortnight …   English dictionary

  • fortnight — noun /ˈfɔːt.naɪt,ˈfɔɹt.naɪt/ A period of fourteen nights; two weeks. 1852 [ …   Wiktionary

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