Word of the Day : January 25, 2012


verb in-TER-kuh-layt


1 : to insert (as a day) in a calendar

2 : to insert between or among existing elements or layers

Did You Know?

"Intercalate" was formed from the Latin prefix "inter-," meaning "between" or "among," and the Latin verb "calare," meaning "to proclaim" or "to call." It was originally associated with proclaiming the addition of a day or month in a calendar. An instance of intercalation occurred in the earliest versions of the Roman calendar, which originally consisted of 304 days and 10 months and was determined by the lunar cycle. When the Romans realized that they had overlooked a two-month cycle during the winter, the king "intercalated" the months January and February. Eventually, the word's use broadened to include other kinds of insertion.


Over the centuries, people of various cultures have intercalated months and days to bring their calendars into alignment with the seasonal year.

"The fossiliferous deposits of the Tatrot Formation outcropping in the area consist of pale pinkish-orange brown clays, brownish grey siltstones and shale, and greenish grey fine to medium grained sandstones intercalated with dark grey conglomerates…." -- From an article by M. A. Khan, et al., in the Journal of Animal and Plant Sciences, December 31, 2011

Word Family Quiz

What descendant of "calare" can refer to a system of names for things, especially in science? The answer is ...


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!