Why it is called a fortnight

It is called fortnight because the word depicts a period of two weeks combined. But given that ‘fort’ itself is not a number—to suggest anything here, one may be slightly confused about the correctness of this scope, so we want to examine why this is so. 

Etymology of the Word

The word is said to have come from the Old English term fēowertīene niht, which literally translates: “fourteen nights” (or “fourteen days”). Worthy of note is the point that the Anglo-Saxons counted by nights. 

In other words; the words of some less credible sources:

The term “fortnight” comes from Old English and is a combination of “forti,” (not fort as we may be tempted to syllabify) meaning fourteen, and “niht,” meaning night. So, quite literally, it means “fourteen nights” or a period of two weeks. It’s a common term in British English and some other English-speaking regions to refer to a span of 14 days.

In any case, Fortnight was derived from some Old English lexemes; not a thing we in the 21st century are likely to be familiar with.

As a matter of fact, the root words from which it originated do not in a bit sound like English words to me. Perhaps, as I speculate, there’s a link between the whole thing and the French language.  

Some Example Sentences

  • For all we know, the project shouldn’t take you a fortnight. 
  • The producer said that the next episode will be ready in a fortnight or so. 
  • How could I be sure I will return in a fortnight? 

Why is Fortnight a Span of Two Weeks? 

Two weeks may in other words be called fortnight because fourteen days make the duration and, as earlier examined, fortnight is just a period of that number of days. 


fortnight = fourteen nights (or days)

Fourteen days = two weeks 

Therefore, fortnight is equal to fourteen days or two weeks. 

I hope this is not overly simplified! Haha!

Read Also: Do you say a cheat or a cheater, which is correct and which is not? 

What is the Difference Between Fortnite And Fortnight? 

Why is it called a fortnight?
Image for illustration purposes

Fortnite is no different than fortnight in meaning, should you’ve heard it used interchangeably before. 

But this shouldn’t make us think that both words share no difference whatsoever. Fortnite is the obsolete form of fortnight. So, while both are English words, many prefer the modern and more acceptable fortnight to the archaic fortnite.

DMCA.com Protection Status
Scroll to Top