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-night), an old word for the week, was still in use in the early nineteenth century, to judge from Jane Austen's letters.]

"Fortnight" is a commonly used word in Britain and many Commonwealth countries such as India and Australia where many wages, salaries and most social security benefits are paid on a fortnightly basis. [cite web |url= |title=Australian Government - How much Disability Support Pension do I get? |accessdate=2008-05-22 |format= |work= ] The word is rarely used in the United States, but is used regionally in Canada. Payroll systems may use the term ' in reference to pay periods every two weeks. The terms ' and "biweekly" are often mistakenly conflated with "".

In many languages, there is no single word for a two-week period and the equivalents of "two weeks" or "fourteen days" have to be used. In Spanish, Italian, French and in Portuguese, there are the terms "quincena" (or "quince días"), "quindici giorni", "quinzaine" and "quinzena", all meaning "fifteen days". Similarly, in Greek, the term "dekapenthimero" meaning "fifteen days" is also used. In Arabic the short term "أسبوعان" (two weeks) is commonly used and the longer term "خمسة عشر يوماً" (fifteen days) is used to a lesser extent. In Hebrew the term "שבועיים" (two weeks) is commonly used.

In Welsh the term "pythefnos", meaning "fifteen nights", is used instead. This is in keeping with the Welsh term for a week, which is "wythnos" ("eight nights")

The fortnight is the base unit of time in the humorous FFF System of units.


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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 — 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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