'Semi-Monthly' Meaning: How Long is 'Semi-Monthly'?

By Katie Moore, updated on August 21, 2023

‘Semi-Monthly’ Meaning: How long is ‘Semi-Monthly’? We tend to use a variety of phrases to tell time or discuss periods of time. While this can be helpful in giving us a wealth of options, it can also lead to confusion when some terms are ambiguous. This article will help clarify the meaning of the term ‘Semi-Monthly’.

In a hurry? Here’s a quick preview of what you’ll learn:

  • ‘Semi-Monthly’ refers to something that happens two times a month

Definition of ‘Semi-Monthly’: What Does it Mean? 

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Semi-Monthly’ is an adjective that means: 

  • Occurring or published twice a month
    • “He receives semimonthly payments.”

As an adverb, ‘Semi-Monthly’ means:

  • Twice per month

And as a noun, the word means: 

  • A semi-monthly publication

Phrases with ‘Semi-Monthly’

  • Semi-monthly payment
  • Semi-monthly appointment
  • Semi-monthly check-in 

Origin of ‘Semi-Monthly’: Where Does the Word Come From?

Knowing the definition of words is important, but so is understanding the origin of the word. To understand the meaning of our new word, we must first understand its prefix. 

  • A prefix is a letter or set of letters that get added to the beginning of a word in order to change its meaning. This can help change and influence the context of a word within a sentence, as well as help clarify meaning. 

The prefix in ‘Semi-Monthly,’ of course, is ‘semi-.’ The prefix ‘semi-’ is derived from the Latin prefix and root, which has several meanings, including “half,” “somewhat,” “partly,” and “less than fully.”

Examples of other words using the prefix ‘semi-’ include: 

  • Semicircle: half of a circle
  • Semiconscious: partly conscious, or in and out of consciousness 
  • Semisweet: not entirely sweet, partly salty, or savory
  • Semiannual: occurring twice a year 
  • Semiformal: partly formal or somewhat casual

In the case of ‘Semi-Monthly,’ we know that it means “occurring twice per month.” We can see how this would easily transfer to occurring in part of the month or for half of the month. 

How to Use ‘Semi-Monthly’ in a Sentence

Now that you have a grasp on both the origins and definition of ‘Semi-Monthly’, let’s make sure you have the tools to actually use the word properly. One of the easiest and best ways to learn a new word is to see it in action in real-world scenarios. Below you’ll find some sample sentences that will provide a good understanding of how to use our new word properly. 

‘Semi-Monthly’ Example Sentences

  • I try to schedule semi-monthly dates to meet up with friends who live in different cities so I can see them every two weeks. 
  • Many jobs pay their employees semi-monthly so they can put money in the bank on a bi-weekly basis and get by. 
  • He washes his sheets semi-monthly, so in the first two weeks, he uses green sheets, and in the second two weeks, he uses blue ones. 
  • The company requires its workers to submit semi-monthly reports so they can assess their progress every few weeks. 
  • During their summer break, the team still meets semi-monthly on the first and 15th of the month to keep in touch and on the same page. 
  • During the pandemic, my family would call every other Sunday for our semi-monthly catch-ups. 

Pronunciations: How to Pronounce ‘Semi-Monthly’

While writing is a huge part of language learning, we can’t neglect another huge component: speaking. Knowing what words mean and how to use them is nothing if you can’t say them properly. Here you’ll find tips on how to pronounce ‘Semi-Monthly’ correctly so you can speak and plan as clearly as possible when you’re communicating with others about time. 

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Semi-Monthly’ as a guide: 

  • ‘Seh-mee-muh-nth-lee’ (with the ‘o’ being a flat sound as in “sun”)

Alternatives to ‘Semi-Monthly’

While ‘Semi-Monthly’ is less confusing than other time-telling terms, you may still need to further clarify your meaning. To do so, you’ll need to be armed with a few alternatives that will ensure others understand you. 

Fortunately, the definition of ‘Semi-Monthly’ itself — “twice per month”— is a great alternative and is one that doesn’t take up a ton of extra space. You can also say the slightly more casual and colloquial “twice a month” or “twice monthly.” 

  • Note, though, that when you say twice monthly, it may not indicate something happening at the halfway point of the month. This is important because the technical definition of ‘semi’ is half, so if you intend to mean half, be sure you’re clear on that. 

One other alternative is to say “two times per month.” While this is a slightly longer alternative, it may be helpful when the occurrences don’t happen at an exact interval. 

  • For example, you want to see someone twice a month, but the time between those visits is not exactly measured. 

Finally, beware of the term ‘Bi-Monthly’ which means both “twice per month” and “every two months.” While it is a correct substitute for ‘Semi-Monthly’ in some cases, you’ll have to be very specific with the context you use it in so others aren’t confused.  You can read more about the definition of 'Bi-Monthly' in other articles. 

Final Advice on the Meaning of ‘Semi-Monthly’

One of the main points of learning a language is to be able to communicate effectively, and planning and scheduling are a huge part of communication. Knowing the definitions and pronunciations of new words are important, but especially with timing words like ‘Semi-Monthly’ it’s especially important to understand the effects of context. We hope this article gives you the tools to tackle every aspect of this new word and will help you avoid any future confusion. 

Need a recap? Here’s a quick review of what was covered:

  • ‘Semi’ is a prefix that means “half,” “partly,” “somewhat,” and “less than fully.”
  • ‘Semi-Monthly’ is an adjective that describes something that occurs or is done twice every month. 

Clarifying time can be tricky, especially when words have multiple meanings. Want to master other timing words? Be sure to check out other confusing word articles that will help you nail down any scheduling ambiguities so you can communicate with ease.

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Written By:
Katie Moore
Katie is a recent graduate of Occidental College where she worked as a writer and editor for the school paper while studying linguistics and journalism. She loves helping others find their voice in writing and making their work the strongest it can be. Katie also loves learning and speaking other languages and wants to help make writing accessible for everyone.

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