hebdomad n. 1. the number seven.  2. a group of seven.  3. seven consecutive days; a week.

sevenIt’s been a long hebdomad. From the Greek root hebdomos, which means seventh, comes a nice substitute word for week, or the number seven.  The Romans incorporated the word into the term dies hebdomadis, meaning day of the week, but later dropped the use of hebdomas as a week for the term septimana, which gives us September, the seventh Roman month.

Some related words include hebdomadal – as a noun, a weekly publication, or as an adjective, something lasting one week or occurring weekly.  From the Roman Catholic religion we also get hebdomadary, a church or monastery member appointed to sing the chapter Mass and lead in the recitations for one week.  Back in the mid-19th century, the powers that be at Oxford University formed the Hebdomadal Council, a group that provided financial and managerial oversight to the university until its dissolution in 2000.  What’s interesting is that this group met regularly during the school term, not every week, as the name implies, but every two weeks.  Perhaps the Oxford dons needed a short reminder course in Greek.


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