Why does “fortnight” mean two weeks?

“Fort” in the word “fortnight”, is a shortening of “fourteen”. So, “fortnight” is “fourteen nights”. In the old days, some countries in Europe kept track of time by counting the number of nights rather than days. They believed that night preceded day. So, instead of saying “I will meet you in two days”, they probably said, “I will meet you in two nights”. In Old English, we also had the word “sennight”. Can you guess what it means? “Sen” is a contraction of “seven”.

S. Upendran , The Hindu- ‘Know Your English’ Series, March 11, 2003

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