ca·​lends | \ ˈka-lən(d)z How to pronounce calends (audio) , ˈkā- How to pronounce calends (audio) \
variants: or kalends
plural in form but singular or plural in construction

Definition of calends

: the first day of the ancient Roman month from which days were counted backward to the ides

First Known Use of calends

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for calends

Middle English kalendis "first day of the month," borrowed from Latin kalendae, calendae, plural noun, probably from an irregularly formed gerundive of calāre "to announce, proclaim" — more at low entry 3

Note: Latin kalendae was one of a small number of words in which an earlier spelling with k was retained in later republican and imperial Rome. The origin of kalendae was thus explained by M. Terentius varro in De lingua latina: "Primi dies mensium nominati Kalendae, quod his diebus calantur eius mensis Nonae a pontificibus, quintanae an septimanae sint futurae, in Capitolio in Curia Calabra sic: 'Die te quinti kalo Iuno Covella'…." ("The first days of the months are called Kalendae, because on these days the Nones of that month are announced [calantur] by the pontifexes—whether they would be on the fifth or seventh days—in the Curia Calabra [a sacred area where the new moon was observed] on the Capitoline Hill, in the following way: 'Juno Covella, I announce [calō] you on the fifth day'….") The form kalendae for expected kalandae has been variously explained; it may be a retention of an earlier conjugation *calere or *calēre (which would accord with Umbrian kařetu—see note at low entry 3).

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The first known use of calends was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

23 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Calends.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

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