The Hidden Power of Words: ‘Calendar’

posted in: Language 0

calendar |ˈkaləndər|
a chart or series of pages showing the days, weeks, and months of a particular year, or giving particular seasonal information


Today’s Word: Calendar

Common Phrases and Usage in American English: “He checked his calendar to see if he had any prior engagements for next Saturday.” “I know we’re living in the digital age with the ability to sync work and personal calendars, but I always buy a wall calendar every year out of habit.” “What’s the calendar of events for the arts festival this weekend?”

My Take on the Definition and Guess as to the Origin: I’m going to guess that the word ‘calendar’ has some sort of origin based on the seasons, or something related to time…a sundial perhaps?

Drumroll Please:

ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French calendier, from Latin kalendarium ‘account book,’ from kalendae (see calends).

Well I certainly did not see that origin coming! Going back to Latin for ‘account book’ certainly makes sense as we keep account of all the different days, months and years that go by. What is ‘calends?’ We’ll have to take a look:

calends |ˈkaləndz, ˈkā-|
plural noun
the first day of the month in the ancient Roman calendar


Here’s the origin:

ORIGIN Old English (denoting an appointed time): from Old French calendes, from Latin kalendae, calendae ‘first day of the month’ (when accounts were due and the order of days was proclaimed); related to Latin calare and Greek kalein ‘call, proclaim.’

I had never heard of calends before and it’s interesting to see that there was actually a specific word in ancient Roman to describe the first day of the month. Looking at the Latin words kalendae and kalendarium, well, it just goes to show that some things really haven’t changed much over the years.

There’s still a call or proclamation to keep financials in check, or business accounts in order related to the calendar (with the idea of an account book…or bookkeeping in mind?). Today it is not uncommon to find that bills, rent and other payments are due at the end/beginning of the month. Invoices are commonly due with net payment due in 30 days…which just so happens to be about the length of one month.

Note: Dictionary used for definitions and references is The New Oxford American Dictionary, Version 2.2.2 (118.1), Apple Inc., Copyright 2005-2011.

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.