biennial

adjective bi·en·ni·al \ (ˌ)bī-ˈe-nē-əl \
Updated on: 20 Nov 2017

Definition of biennial

1 : occurring every two years
  • a biennial celebration
2 : continuing or lasting for two years; specificallyof a plant : growing vegetatively during the first year and fruiting and dying during the second
  • Biennial herbs flower in their second year.

biennial

noun

biennially

play \-ə-lē\ adverb

What do bimonthly and biweekly mean?

Many people are puzzled about bimonthly and biweekly, which are often ambiguous because they are formed from two different senses of bi-: "occurring every two" and "occurring two times." This ambiguity has been in existence for nearly a century and a half and cannot be eliminated by the dictionary. The chief difficulty is that many users of these words assume that others know exactly what they mean, and they do not bother to make their context clear. So if you need bimonthly or biweekly, you should leave some clues in your context to the sense of bi- you mean. And if you need the meaning "twice a," you can substitute semi- for bi-. Biannual and biennial are usually differentiated.


Examples of biennial in a Sentence

  1. The governor explained the biennial budget proposal.

Recent Examples of biennial from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'biennial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Biennial conventions, celebrations, competitions, and sports events come every two years. Biennials are plants that live two years, bearing flowers and fruit only in the second year. (Carrots and sugar beets are two examples; since we're only interested in their roots, we don't wait another year to see their flower and fruit.) In contrast, semiannual means "twice a year". But no one can agree whether biweekly means "twice a week" or "every two weeks", and whether bimonthly means "twice a month" or "every two months". Maybe we should stop using both of them until we can decide.

First Known Use of biennial

1562

Other Number-Related Terms


BIENNIAL Defined for English Language Learners

biennial

adjective

Definition of biennial for English Language Learners

  • : happening every two years

  • of a plant : living for only two years or seasons : having a life cycle that is two years or seasons long


BIENNIAL Defined for Kids

1

biennial

adjective bi·en·ni·al \ bī-ˈe-nē-əl \

Definition of biennial for Students

1 : occurring every two years
  • a biennial celebration
2 : growing stalks and leaves one year and flowers and fruit the next before dying

biennially

\-ē-ə-lē\ adverb

Word Root of biennial

The Latin word annus, meaning “year,” gives us the root ann or enn. Words from the Latin annus have something to do with a year. Anything that is annual happens once a year and anything biennial happens once every two years. An anniversary is the return every year of the date on which something special happened. Something perennial continues all year long or comes back each year.


2

biennial

noun

Definition of biennial for Students

: a biennial plant


Seen and Heard

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