1 : occurring twice a year
2 : occurring every two years
Did You Know?
When we describe something as biannual, we can mean either that it occurs twice a year or that it occurs once every two years. So how does someone know which particular meaning we have in mind? Well, unless we provide them with a contextual clue, they don't. Some people prefer to use semiannual to refer to something that occurs twice a year, reserving biannual for things that occur once every two years. This practice is hardly universal among English speakers, however, and biannual remains a potentially ambiguous word. Fortunately, English also provides us with biennial, a word that specifically refers to something that occurs every two years or that lasts or continues for two years.
"The first is status quo: We could leave current daylight saving time in place, and continue to set our clocks an hour forward in spring and an hour back in fall. But some Californians want to end those biannual clock shifts, in part because they correlate with increases in heart attacks, traffic accidents, and workplace accidents." — Joe Mathews, The Californian (Salinas, California), 15 Aug. 2018
"The Television Critics Association's just-ended biannual conference was both a micro look at programming and a macro view of the medium's direction. In a parade stretching over two weeks, about 30 networks, channels and streaming platforms held more than 100 Q&A sessions and countless one-on-one interviews to prove they've got what viewers want." — The Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Massachusetts), 11 Aug. 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete an adjective that means "duplicate": g _ _ in _ teVIEW THE ANSWER
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