What’s the origin of the phrase “leap year”?

February 29th happens every four years and is known as a modern leap day (as opposed to the Medieval leap day: February 24th) or leap year, sometimes referred to as an intercalary year.

The origin for the term leap year is derived from the Medieval Latin saltus lunae or “moon’s-jump,” which describes the nineteen-yearly elimination of a day from the lunar calendar. Later, this was transposed into Old English as monan hlyp or “moon’s leap.”

(If you think this already sounds odd, consider the fact that September means “seven,” and October means “eight,” yet these are the ninth and tenth months.)

The Gregorian calendar, modified from the Julian calendar used by the Romans, is the current standard calendar used by most of the world. In order to keep the common calendar cycle synchronized with the seasons, one extra day is added to a year. The addition of one day to the calendar every four years is intended to compensate for the fact that 365 days is actually six hours shorter than a solar year. The other three years are now known as common years.

Other calendars that synchronize with the Gregorian calendar include the Indian National calendar, the revised Bangla calendar and the Thai solar calendar, which uses the Buddhist Era (a lunisolar calendar) but has been synchronized with the Gregorian calendar since 1941.

If your birthday falls on a leap day, you’re called a “leaper.” A tradition dating back over four centuries holds that on a leap day, a woman may propose to a man. If the man refuses said proposal, according to some stories, he must pay a fine of a kiss or a silk gown.

Weakening Juan Hits Canada’s East Coast

AP Online September 29, 2003

AP Online 09-29-2003 Dateline: HALIFAX, Nova Scotia

A surfer watches the the surf at Lawrencetown Beach near Halifax on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2003. Hurricane Juan is expected to hit Nova Scotia later in the day.(AP Photo/Andrew Vaughan) Hurricane Juan lashed Nova Scotia with winds and torrential rains, killing at least one person and knocking out power to thousands before being downgraded to a tropical storm early Monday as it churned toward Prince Edward Island.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated from low-lying areas and Nova Scotia’s power authority warned people to stay indoors Monday because falling trees had knocked down a “terrific” number of still-live power lines. in our site category 1 hurricane

Halifax, the largest city on Canada’s east coast, received the brunt of Juan’s punch with wind speeds reaching 89 mph early Monday.

“It was quite a fantastic event,” said Carolyn Marshall, spokeswoman at Canada’s Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

At least one death was blamed on the storm. An ambulance driver was killed when an uprooted tree crushed his vehicle near the Camp Hill Hospital in Halifax, officials said.

In nearby Dartmouth, fierce winds tore off an apartment building’s roof and knocked down a wall in a hallway, trapping about three people inside, firefighters said. Police dug through the rubble but reported no injuries.

“We’re not sure how stable it is and we’re not taking any chances,” said fire chief Tim Bookholt. “It’s been a busy night. I hope the worst of it is over.” At least 200 residents were evacuated from the four-story building _ many of them seniors _ and bused to a local hockey arena as a temporary shelter.

In Halifax, the swirling storm system knocked out power to significant areas as downed tree limbs cartwheeled through city streets and damaged cars.

The exact number of people left without electricity wasn’t known early Monday, but it was “in the thousands,” said Margaret Murphy, a spokeswoman for Nova Scotia Power.

Audrey Russell, from the coastal town of Eastern Passage, grabbed a tooth brush, toothpaste, her cat and some clothes and then headed for refuge in a nearby firehall.

“I was kind of worried, so I didn’t want to stay around too long,” Russell said.

Juan was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane earlier Sunday and had lost some of its ferocity by the time it reached cooler waters off Nova Scotia. A Category 1 hurricane has winds ranging from 74 to 95 mph. see here category 1 hurricane

In 1996, when Hurricane Hortense brushed past Halifax, the storm surge topped three feet, and winds uprooted trees and left tens of thousands without power. Tropical storms routinely soak Atlantic Canada each summer and autumn, but a full-fledged hurricane making landfall is rare.

Juan arrives a week after Hurricane Isabel hit the U.S. coast, killing 40 people from North Carolina to New Jersey and knocking out electrical service to 6 million customers as far north as New York.

Meanwhile, at 4:45 a.m. EDT, Tropical Storm Kate swirled in the Atlantic far from land. Its center was about 970 miles southwest of Lajes in the Azores Islands. Kate had maximum sustained winds near 65 mph and was moving toward the northeast near 14 mph.

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

Public interest is ill-defined in Walmart case zz Treasury calls for regulation of foreign direct investment.

The Star (South Africa) July 22, 2011 Everyone, it seems, has a view on Walmart. The views vary between the belief that Walmart’s arrival in South Africa is good news as it will bring low prices to consumers, and the opposing view that the cost of those low prices will be the destruction of South Africa’s manufacturing capacity, as well as the annihilation of small- and medium-sized retail operators. web site walmart price match

Those who believe that Walmart represents the ugly face of capitalism don’t put much store by the allure of Walmart’s cheap prices; they believe that those prices will be on offer only until Walmart, through its local agent Massmart, has got rid of the competition.

However, the pro-Walmart camp counters this belief, stating that not only is there sufficiently robust competition in South Africa to restrain Walmart’s aggressive instincts, there is also a Competition Act and competition authorities that will ensure Walmart will not be able to abuse its power.

Ironically, although representatives of poorer and smaller communities tend to fall into the anti-Walmart camp, the pro-Walmart establishment can frequently be heard proclaiming the benefits of Walmart’s prices for the poor of this country.

It is hardly surprising that Walmart generates so much passion – you don’t get to be the biggest retailer in the world without stirring some emotions and creating a few myths.

During the past week’s Parliamentary hearings alone, the portfolio committee on economic development heard that Walmart’s entry was behind the proposed retrenchment of over 3 000 workers at Pick n Pay, Woolworths’ increased level of imports and the 10-year-old demise of Metro Cash & Carry. This exaggerates even Walmart’s grand view of itself.

Of course the sad reality for the government is that, whatever the views of the average consumer, the full impact of Walmart’s entry into this country can only be known five or so years down the road.

Right now the only unquestionable beneficiaries of the Walmart-Massmart merger are the senior executives with share options who immediately benefit to the tune of a few hundred million rands.

In stark contrast is the uncertainty facing the general economy. If in five years time our manufacturing capacity has failed to compete with the Walmart price, it may be too late for the government to do anything.

And despite the great faith in our competition authorities, the reality is that Walmart’s scope to price competitors out of the market cannot be challenged by those authorities. The Competition Act only prohibits “predatory pricing” if it involves pricing at below cost.

Walmart’s enormous buying power and the Chinese government’s subsidisation of Chinese-made goods means that the cost of China-sourced goods is incredibly low.

Another sad, or certainly challenging, reality for the government is that some of its most powerful constituents are among the vocal opponents to Walmart’s entry.

There is much at stake in Walmart’s entry to South Africa. And it may be because the stakes are so high that the three government departments have been prepared to pursue a high-risk strategy.

However, this strategy not only creates the impression of a government with a disjointed industrial policy but threatens to undermine the credibility of one of the most effective of the post-1994 institutions, namely the competition authorities. here walmart price match

In the latter regard, one of the most damning sections of the “three ministers” affidavit supporting this week’s application for review of the Competition Tribunal’s decision is the suggestion that the Competition Commission only recommended unconditional approval of the deal because it believed the Economic Development Department had secured or was on the verge of securing “public interest” undertakings from Walmart.

This suggests that the commission is in thrall to its political master and lacks the necessary independence to do its job effectively.

But perhaps the critical question to ask here is: why are the competition authorities having to carry the enormous burden of expectations in this case? Why were they being asked to determine the outcome of a case that has profound and broad implications for this economy? And, while struggling with this burden, they are being squeezed, almost to death, by opportunistic politicians.

It was already evident in the run-up to the tribunal hearings that competition issues played a relatively small role in this merger. This meant that all the other issues, about which so many people feel so passionately, had to be squeezed into that catch-all term “public interest”, a term in the Competition Act that had previously never been vigorously interrogated. Inevitably some people were going to be disappointed and frustrated. As it happened those people had political clout.

It is clear that we need what most leading economies have – a policy regulating foreign investment. Without it we get the sort of messy opportunism that characterises the current attempts to deal with this controversial transaction.

To date only the Treasury has ventured into this arena. It recently released a discussion document relating to the need to regulate certain forms of foreign direct investment. There appears to have been little follow through.

Meanwhile, will Walmart bow to the pressure from the three departments and offer up a few more face-saving concessions or brazen it out and proceed with what is likely to be a lengthy appeal process?

The appeal does not stop the two companies from continuing to implement the merger, although it could delay any action with the R100 million fund to support small suppliers.

Walmart may not be able to concede anything more for fear of setting a precedent to which it does not want to be held as it continues to develop its international operations.


  1. Hanna Sane -  April 9, 2013 - 9:14 pm

    Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  2. El Gato -  February 29, 2012 - 2:32 pm

    How about sidereal days? Did you know that the rotation of the earth through 360 degrees is a sidereal day and not a regular (solar) day? This is because during a solar day, the earth has moved in its orbit a bit and so must turn a few degrees beyond 360 in order to have the sun above the same spot on the earth. A sidereal day uses a remote star as the reference point.

  3. euroangel -  February 28, 2012 - 2:04 pm

    my friend was born on a leap year..she celebrates her birthday every 28 of february..thanks for this info here.

  4. Fat Boy -  May 11, 2011 - 6:06 pm

    yes it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Fat Boy -  March 15, 2011 - 2:28 pm

    wow jace that is random but cherub is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. wordjunkie -  March 1, 2011 - 4:14 pm

    um….Nate? The year 2000 was a leap year.

  7. Jace -  March 1, 2011 - 8:13 am

    read CHERUB

  8. Fat Boy -  March 1, 2011 - 8:12 am

    I’m awesome because my birthday is on feb29th

  9. ... -  March 1, 2011 - 2:33 am

    i think if you birthday is on feb 29 you just celebrate it on the 28 when its not leap year

  10. random 9th grader! -  February 28, 2011 - 1:32 pm

    This is interesting. I’m not really the type that likes stuff like this but this was very informative. I like articles like this! And my baby neice was born in 2000… But if someone was born tomorrow, would that make them a leaper?

  11. nate -  February 28, 2011 - 1:18 pm

    How ’bout telling the world WHY the year 2000 was not a leap year??

  12. Joseph -  February 28, 2011 - 11:54 am

    To Mr.Anderson: The Mayan calender does not predict the end of life. It is only the sick-minded that say that. I hope you are not one of them. Scholars who know the Mayan hieroglyphs say that there is no end predicted there. The calender basically ends there, but the Maya did not build an infinite calender.
    I would like to learn more about the Mayan calender.

  13. Ray -  February 28, 2011 - 11:49 am

    1. RE: Ashley on February 28, 2011 at 1:33 am

    You might– celebrate at exactly the stroke of midnight, so that your party falls between Feb. 28th and Mar. 1st., and only 29′ers would have the right time…!

    2. RE: D Williamson on February 28, 2011 at 7:12 am

    Once upon a time, 365.2425 days/year was correct– ca the era of Adam and Eve, But– the Earth’s rotation also slowly slows, so it’s no longer so correct…!

    (But, should we suppose that Pope Gregory XIII actually knew this slight fact…?)

    3. And for the digitally inclined, Notice also that, had we a binary calendar, we’d have more accuracy yet– as, 365 + (1/4) – (1/128) = 365.24219, right-on today!

    (That’s 1 0110 1101.0011 1110 days/year in fixed-point-Binary representation.)

    REF: The slowing of Earth rotation is attributed to lunar tidal-drag, (which must mean sea level on an east coast is slightly higher than on a west coast, but this does not change mass-weight-constancy at sea level, around the world), at the rate of 5-6 msec-per-year per year, or 60-70 μ-day-per-year per millennium….

  14. astro -  February 28, 2011 - 10:38 am

    Technically, the next leap-day is one revolution around the sun (one earth year) away, not one solar rotation (~25 days) away.

  15. Maddi -  February 28, 2011 - 9:26 am

    i was born on a leap year. Did u know that most people born in leap years are smarter than those who are not?

    (all of this was a LIE) (I hatien you)

  16. Jace -  February 28, 2011 - 7:49 am


    And as I understand, leap year rules are -slightly- more complicated.

    If the year is evenly divisible by 4 – you have leap year.
    The year is evenly divisible by 100, then NO leap year
    The year is evenly divisible by 1000, then you DO have a leap year

    Thus, 2012 IS a leap year, 1900 was Not, but 2000 WAS.

  17. D Williamson -  February 28, 2011 - 7:12 am

    Years that are evenly divisible by 100 are not leap years, unless they are also evenly divisible by 400, in which case they are leap years. For example, 1600 and 2000 were leap years, but 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not. Similarly, 2100, 2200, 2300, 2500, 2600, 2700, 2900 and 3000 will not be leap years, but 2400 and 2800 will be. By this rule, the average number of days per year will be 365 + 1/4 − 1/100 + 1/400 = 365.2425, which is 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 12 seconds. – from Wikipedia

  18. Liza with a Z -  February 28, 2011 - 6:27 am

    If February 29 is the day when woman can propose marriage to a man, does that means it’s also known as Sadie Hawkins Day?

  19. MOOT -  February 28, 2011 - 5:30 am

    If Dogpatch Day fell on 29 Feb the guys wouldn’t have a chance.

  20. meleagrid -  February 28, 2011 - 2:28 am

    By the Metonic cycle, this year is a leap year. Those who depend on the supposedly more accurate lunar calendar would agree with that. An extra month is added at certain intervals and in 19 year cycles to produce a calendar where the dates always are supposed to be the same day. For example, if one was be born on a Saturday, that person would always celebrate the birthday on a Saturday the same time of the year every year. Calendars and time they measure are rather complex, but over the centuries they have been refined. Too really find why this came about and why it so, read more about. It’s all in the math. Wikipedia, of course, has a pretty good discussion.

  21. thabo andrew mpheqeke -  February 28, 2011 - 1:41 am

    somewhat abtract.somhow interesting and mind-boggling, but it’s astronomy where time is the central focus. come up with more articles of this nature.

  22. Ashley -  February 28, 2011 - 1:33 am

    Hi. My name is Ashley. Dictionary.com, I really like your post. Pretty cool. My friend Kylie was born on Feb 29, 2000. Technically she’s only two. But we still celebrate her birthday on the 28th if it’s not a leap year. This article is so awesome because now I can call her a leaper! Yay! Cool! Actually I think today is the 28th…yeah that’s right! I celebrated Kylie’s sort-of birthday today…we had some cake! I can’t wait till next year…Kylie will be “three”! But we still count her as eleven. I really like her. And I really like your article, Dictionary.com! Thanks for sharing. Especially since it finally has nothing to do with Spain!

    Bye for now
    –Ashley :)

    PS Pinch and a punch for the last day of the month

  23. Lucia -  February 28, 2011 - 1:18 am

    Hm, but the article is not exactly correct. Leap years that end a century happen only every 400 years. That is, 2000 was a leap year and 2100 will be not, the next secular leap year will be 2400. That’s because the time lost every 365 days is not exactly 6 hours… that would be too easy!

  24. Mr.Anderson -  February 28, 2011 - 1:06 am

    Very good artical !But just wanted to know did the miayian calender also have leap years if not how could they predict that life as we know it would end in 2012 ???????

  25. TrulyMe -  February 27, 2011 - 7:31 pm

    The revised Bangla calendar mimics the Gregorian one? I never knew.

  26. TrulyMe -  February 27, 2011 - 7:30 pm

    LOL. Nice article. That was one smart five year old! :P

  27. ivorybrunette -  February 27, 2011 - 6:26 pm

    Guess I’m the first. The only thing I have to say is that for all I’ve been hearing lately about the “wide-ly held tradition” of a woman proposing to a man on a leap day, I had never known about this not too long ago. Can anyone tell me when this started and how?

  28. Eyewitness -  February 27, 2011 - 5:59 pm

    Leapin’ Lizards! You mean February 29th isn’t an orphan?

  29. Ray -  February 27, 2011 - 5:46 pm

    That’s all fine-and-dandy for those who live in Romanized countries… But in the Grecized countries they do a bit differently– the semiofficial Orthodox calendar since 1924, replaced the 400th-rule by more-accurate 200th-or-600th-modulo-900…. However, we shouldn’t-need worry about this until A.D. 2800….


    * Rumania (Romania) is purportedly included with the Greek, despite its name.

    REF: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1946MNSSA…5….6B

  30. Jane -  February 27, 2011 - 5:29 pm

    I love this post. My FIL was born on 29 February but I always understood him to be a ‘leapling’, not a ‘leaper’. Have you heard of that one?

  31. Bob -  February 27, 2011 - 5:09 pm

    woah that’s very interesting but next time state the actual fact that was proposed in the title, THEN go on to related facts please!!!

  32. Steve Osuman -  February 27, 2011 - 4:34 pm

    This is a nice piece of knowledge. I now know why 29february is called a leap day and those born on such days are called ‘leapers’.

  33. Queen Sardonic -  February 27, 2011 - 2:46 pm

    YES! An article NOT about Spain. I mean, I love Spanish as much as the next person, but one can only take so much Espanol.

    I loved this article! Keep up the good work!


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