se·​mes·​ter | \ sə-ˈme-stər \

Definition of semester

1 : either of the two usually 18-week periods of instruction into which an academic year is often divided
2 : a period of six months

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Other Words from semester

semestral \ sə-​ˈme-​strəl \ or semestrial \ sə-​ˈme-​strē-​əl \ adjective

Examples of semester in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

One student told me, late in the semester, that her father had been murdered just days before classes began. Jonathan W. Wilson, Vox, "My students aren’t asking for safe spaces. They’re repressing past traumas to survive.," 12 Dec. 2018 Bill Snyder spent one semester of his years as a college student at the school known today as Missouri Western State University. Blair Kerkhoff, kansascity, "Bill Snyder remembers roots at dedication in his name," 12 July 2018 The second summer semester starts next week, and forward Kassoum Yakwe, the grad transfer from St. John’s, is expected on campus to join his new teammates. Dom Amore,, "Former Husky Taliek Brown Joins UConn Men's Basketball Coaching Staff," 3 July 2018 Having started with just 15 students in the first semester, the school received more than 100 applicants this year. Lin Shih-tung, The Christian Science Monitor, "After dead-end jobs, promise of a future for migrant workers in Taiwan," 15 June 2018 My husband, Nico, is a comparative literature professor and had earned a semester off. Bliss Broyard, Condé Nast Traveler, "I Took My Kids Out Of School for Three Months to Travel," 13 July 2018 Most people with a semester of chemistry under their belt understand that atoms are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The Large Hadron Collider Is Getting A Huge Power Boost," 19 June 2018 A month later — and shortly before the start of a new semester — the U.S. Department of Education expelled Charlotte Law from the federal student-loan program, which paid $50 million to the school's students the year before. Michael Gordon And Maria Albrough, charlotteobserver, "Charlotte School of Law turns to one of America's top lawyers to fight back in lawsuit | Charlotte Observer," 21 May 2018 The school did away with the buffer, which officials say dates back to at least 1951, this semester and introduced 15-minute breaks between class periods. Melissa Korn, WSJ, "What Time Is It at Berkeley? Ten Minutes Past Reality," 3 Dec. 2018

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

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First Known Use of semester

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for semester

German, from Latin semestris half-yearly, from sex six + mensis month — more at six, moon

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Dictionary Entries near semester





semester hour



Statistics for semester

Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for semester

The first known use of semester was in 1827

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More Definitions for semester



English Language Learners Definition of semester

: one of two usually 18-week periods that make up an academic year at a school or college


se·​mes·​ter | \ sə-ˈme-stər \

Kids Definition of semester

: either of two terms that make up a school year

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More from Merriam-Webster on semester

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with semester

Spanish Central: Translation of semester

Nglish: Translation of semester for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of semester for Arabic Speakers

Comments on semester

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


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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