Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun \ˈyir\

Simple Definition of year

  • : a unit of time that is equal to 12 months or 365 or sometimes 366 days

  • : the regular period of 12 months that begins in January and ends in December

  • —used to refer to the age of a person

Full Definition of year

  1. 1 a :  the period of about 3651/4 solar days required for one revolution of the earth around the sun b :  the time required for the apparent sun to return to an arbitrary fixed or moving reference point in the sky c :  the time in which a planet completes a revolution about the sun <two Mercury years>

  2. 2 a :  a cycle in the Gregorian calendar of 365 or 366 days divided into 12 months beginning with January and ending with December b :  a period of time equal to one year of the Gregorian calendar but beginning at a different time

  3. 3 :  a calendar year specified usually by a number <died in the year 1900>

  4. 4 plural :  a time or era having a special significance <their glory years>

  5. 5 a :  12 months that constitute a measure of age or duration <her 21st year> —often used in combination <a year-old child> b plural :  age <wise beyond her years>; also :  the final stage of the normal life span

  6. 6 :  a period of time (as the usually 9-month period in which a school is in session) other than a calendar year

Examples of year

  1. I haven't seen her in a year.

  2. He quit smoking six years ago.

  3. The job pays $45,000 a year.

  4. She renews her lease every year.

  5. We see them once or twice a year.

  6. It feels like we've been standing in line for a year.

  7. That team hasn't won in years.

  8. It's been years since I've been on an airplane.

  9. The work should be done by the end of the year.

  10. She was born in the year 1967.

Origin of year

Middle English yere, from Old English gēar; akin to Old High German jār year, Greek hōros year, hōra season, hour

First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Calendar Terms

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up year? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 6, 2016

an official order, decree, or edict

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

kittly-benders pince-nez spindrift duvet
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.