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March 15, 2019 Tweet Word of the Week Like Word of the Week on Facebook
Word of the Week--"leap"
Definition--to jump or spring suddenly or with force. Also, to act impulsively or to quickly or abruptly change from one condition or subject to another.

A leap year consists of 366 days, with an intercalary, or extra, day on 29 February. A leap year occurs once every four years when the year is divisible by 4 (e.g. 1996), thus accommodating the extra approximately quarter-day per year that it takes the Earth to circle the Sun. To further account for the fact that the Earth's orbit of the Sun is not exactly 365 and a quarter days, leap years do not occur on end-of-century years, unless the year is divisible by 400.

Discussion--It turns out a year is longer than 365 days, and to synchronize our calendar with the reality of the Earth's orbit requires some periodic "fudging". Leap years take care of this by leaping February 29th into the calendar every four years or so whether we like it or not.

One can leap to conclusions or leap at an opportunity. Leap is used in many other English idioms, such as:

by leaps and bounds means very quickly. Children are often said to be growing by leaps and bounds.

a leap of faith is the act or instance of believing or trusting in something intangible or incapable of being proved. For many believing in leap years require a leap of faith.

Etymology--Leap comes from the Old English hleapan. The synonymous term spring also comes from the Old English, springan. This root can be seen in some of the translations below.


   Foreign Translations
  leap leap year
Dutch:  sprong (de) schrikkeljaar (het)
French:  bond (m) année (f) bissextile
German:  Sprung (m) Schaltjahr (nt)
Italian:  salto, balzo anno bisestile
Spanish:  salto, brinco año bisiesto

Jane Ellis      Tweet Word of the Week Like Word of the Week on Facebook

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