Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the second month of the year, between January and March

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun February is a borrowing from Latin and French. It is derived from the Latin ‘Februārius which was short for ‘mensis Februarius‘, meaning roughly ‘the month of purification’, because a Roman festival of purification called ‘februa’ was held in the middle of the month. February‘s earliest occurrences date back to the time of Old English.


February is the shortest month of the year with only 28 days, but every four years it gains a day to keep the calendar correct. This is called a leap year and 2020 is such a year. February is notoriously a wet month, and was sometimes known as February fill-dyke, after a folk rhyme alluding to the rain or snow that filled the dykes or ditches. February is a tricky word to spell thanks to the first ‘r’ which is heard barely or not at all in most people’s speech.


February brings the rain, Thaws the frozen lake again.”
(Sara Coleridge)

February fill the dyke, Be it black or be it white; But if it be white, It’s the better to like’.
(folk rhyme)

Related words

calendar, month, leap year

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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