December 26, 2011
December (noun)
\dih-SEM-ber\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: the twelfth month of the year
How do you use it?
December is the darkest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
Are you a word wiz?

"December" comes to us from Latin; what do you think the Latin root word means?

"December" comes from the Latin word "decem," which means "ten." But wait--December is the twelfth month of the year, not the tenth! How did that happen? The original Roman calendar had a 304-day year that started at the spring equinox and was divided into ten months. The first months were mostly named for gods and goddesses. The last months were named for their numerical order: September, October, November, and December come from the Latin words for "seven," "eight," "nine," and "ten." But oddly, the original Roman calendar didn't include the days between December, when the year ended, and March, when the year began. In 153 B.C., the Romans inserted two months into that unused span and named them "Januarius" and "Februarius." Later, Julius Caesar moved the beginning of the year from March 1 to January 1--and that's how December, named after the Latin word for "ten," became our twelfth month.
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