‘Bi-Monthly’ Meaning: How long is ‘Bi-Monthly’? Some words have multiple definitions, both of which are correct, but must be used in different occasions. While this makes sense and is true for many English words, it causes confusion when the context is unclear. This article will help you clear up the confusion of the word ‘Bi-Monthly.’
In a rush? Here’s a quick preview of what’s to come:
As an adverb, the word also means:
And as a noun, the word specifically means:
If we notice the specific definition, we see that both “every two months” and “twice a month” are correct. So, when using the word, you may be using the correct definition yet still causing confusion if others aren’t on board with you. And while definitions are important, they aren’t helping us clarify ambiguity, so let’s further investigate and break down the word ‘Bi-Monthly.’
It feels safe to assume that in the context of time, we are familiar with the word “month.” So the key to understanding the word ‘Bi-Monthly’ begins with understanding its prefix.
In the case of ‘Bi-Monthly, ’ the prefix is obviously ‘bi-.’ ‘Bi- comes from Latin, and is both a root and prefix that can mean “two,” “twice,” and “both.”
Here are a few other examples of words with the prefix ‘bi-’:
As you can see, these words are rather clear in their use of the word two or twice, with the exception of ‘Bi-Weekly,’ which poses the same problem as ‘Bi-Monthly.’ So why is time so confusing?
So, even though you’ll be technically correct in using ‘Bi-Monthly’ to represent both something that happens every two months and twice a month, the key to others understanding you will lie in your use of context.
When learning any new word, it is important to master using them in a real-world scenario to ensure you feel confident in your knowledge beyond just definitions. But with words like ‘Bi-Monthly’ it is especially important to be able to use the word in context so that others know which version of the word you are using. Below you’ll find some sample sentences using both definitions so you can see how they work in a typical setting. After reading the sentences, feel free to try writing some of your own for extra practice.
“Every two months”
“Twice a month”
While context and definitions are huge, you also need to be able to say the word ‘Bi-Monthly’ properly. Nobody will understand you regardless of if you’re using the word correctly if your pronunciation isn’t just as clear. Let’s make sure you are all set for saying this word aloud and using it in a conversation or presentation.
Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Bi-Monthly’ as a guide:
As important as they are, sometimes context clues can only get you so far, and people will still need you to clarify which version of ‘Bi-Monthly’ you are using. The last thing we want is any scheduling confusion or time period misunderstandings, so let’s look at the word’s definition to find some built-in solutions.
Let’s start with the version using ‘two.’ For maximum clarity, you can simply say “every two months” which means exactly the same as ‘Bi-Monthly’. Since we know that this definition signifies that things don’t occur every time, we can also use the phrase “every other month,” which implies that there is a two-month period being discussed. Finally, we can directly reference the months that are in question or the dates within the months that are being highlighted.
For the version using ‘twice,’ one option is to say “twice per month” or the more casual and colloquial “twice a month.”
Navigating ambiguous words can be especially frustrating, given they rely so heavily on context. You may have mastered the definitions and pronunciation, but others may still confuse your meaning given the scenario surrounding your use of the word. In moments like this, it’s important to be patient and remember the alternatives you were given that may help with clarity. Yet, we encourage you not to just jump straight to these alternatives so you can practice using new words to their full effect.
Want a recap? Here’s a quick review of what was covered:
Want to make sure you have a handle on the ambiguities of time? Be sure to check out other confusing word articles to unlock more useful prefixes and alternatives. Remember that context clues are your friend and can be most helpful in learning how to use new words properly.