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Alternative forms[edit]


From Latin kalendas, accusative case of kalendae (first day of a Roman month), an archaic variant of calandae (those which will be proclaimed), the future passive participle of calare (to proclaim, to solemnly announce), from the original Roman practice of proclaiming the first days of the lunar month upon seeing the first signs of a new crescent moon and rendered plural by the Latin treatment of most recurring calendrical days.[1][2] Old English included the singular forms calend and kalendus (calends; a month), which became calende and kalende in Middle English.[3]




  1. (often capitalized) The first day of a month, particularly (historical) of the months of the Roman calendar.
    • 1679, J. Moxon, Mathematics made Easie, page 26:
      The Roman Month its several days divides
      By reckoning backwards, Calends, Nones, and Ides.
    • 2011, Robert A. Kaster trans. Macrobius, Saturnalia, Book I, Chapter xiv, Section 8:
      [March, May, Quintilis, and October] also have their Nones on the seventh, as Numa ordained, because Julius changed nothing about them. As for January, Sextilis, and December, they still have their Nones on the fifth, though they began to have thirty-one days after Caesar added two days to each, and it is nineteen days from their Ides to the following Kalends, because in adding the two days Caesar did not want to insert them before either the Nones or the Ides, lest an unprecedented postponement mar religious observance associated with the Nones or Ides themselves, which have a fixed date.
    • 2015, Agnes Kirsopp Michels, Calendar of the Roman Republic, p. 21:
      The interesting thing about these ceremonies is that they must have originated in a period when the Romans were using true lunar months based on the observation of the crescent moon. The Kalends then would have been the day after the evening on which the crescent had been first sighted, the Nones would have been the first day when the moon was at the first quarter... In the calendar of the late Republic the lunar months have disappeared and the days have been fixed into a rigid pattern.
    The third day before the calends of February is January 30th; the third calends of March is February 27th or 28th; and the third of the calends of May is April 29th.
  2. (Judaism, biblical, obsolete) Synonym of Rosh Hodesh: the Jewish festival of the new moon, which begins the months of the Hebrew calendar.
  3. (figuratively) The first day, a beginning.
  4. (figuratively) A day for settling debts and other accounts.
    • 1644, John Milton, The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, sig. A4: they will compound, and in what Calends...
  5. (uncommon) Synonym of calendar; (figuratively) a record, an account.
Usage notes[edit]

English use of the Roman calendrical term always employs the Romans' inclusive dating, including the calends itself when counting. Thus, the "third day before the calends of January" (a.d. iii Kal. Ian.) is December 30th: two days before January 1st, not three.

English usage also often follows the Latin contraction of the phrasing, which omits the words ante diem. December 30th may appear as the "third calends of January" or the "third of the calends of January". Thus, the "second calends" (pridie kalendas) of a month is the last day of the month before it; the "third calends" (tertia kalendas) is the day before that; and so on.[4] Because Julius Caesar did not want to move the religious holidays set by nones and ides of the months, he inserted all the additional days of his calendar reform in various places before the calends of the months. The Roman leap day was similarly intercalated as a "second sixth calends" on February 25 in order to avoid affecting the existing holidays of that month.

The variant spelling kalends is more common in modern classical scholarship, reflecting the Roman preference for that spelling.


  • (1st day of a month): Kal.; first calends (uncommon)

Derived terms[edit]

Coordinate terms[edit]



  1. ^ Kennedy, Benjamin Hall, The Public School Latin Grammar (1879), p. 126.
  2. ^ Michels, Agnes Kirsopp, Calendar of the Roman Republic (2015), p. 19.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "calends | kalends, n.", in the Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ A complete chart of these dates following the Julian reform is available here.