The Case for Fortnightly

In my last blog post, one of my previewers suggested I replace “fortnightly” with “every two weeks.” Their concern was that most US readers aren’t familiar with the term. Ironically, another previewer who knows how much I love the word praised me for deftly incorporating it. I left it in because the word brings me great joy, even if it’s unfamiliar to many of my readers.

The story behind my love of the word is worth sharing, as it demonstrates the power of shifting your perspective. In my last Product Management role, I had a standing meeting with Rob from R&D and Joe who led Professional Services in Australia. They are both wonderful people and I enjoy spending time with them, but I sometimes looked upon this meeting with trepidation. One of Joe’s superpowers is his ability to drive accountability and follow-through on a commitment. He is arguably the most gifted person I’ve ever met in this area. You quickly learn with Joe not to make a promise lightly. So, at times I dreaded our meetings because of his accountability mastery. Did my team make a commitment to Joe that we did not follow through on? 

Then one day Joe mentioned we’d discuss a topic in our next “fortnightly” meeting. I was struck by his use of a term I rarely hear. It sounded elegant, almost fantastical. And it was precise. In the US we often say “bi-weekly,” which leaves you wondering if we mean “every two weeks” or “twice per week.” I pulled the word into my vocabulary, and it became a game for me – how often could I work the word into conversation. 

Then, something unexpected happened. I began to anticipate my fortnightly with Joe and Rob. The simple joy of using that word and my gratitude to Joe for re-introducing it to me pivoted my perspective of the meeting. I know that sounds simplistic. Sometimes it’s the little moments of joy and gratitude that make all the difference.

Please join me in my campaign to re-establish fortnightly in American English. What obscure word brings you inexplicable joy?

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