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A fortnight is a unit of time equal to 14 days (2 weeks). The word derives from the Old English: fēowertyne niht, meaning "fourteen nights". Fortnight and fortnightly are commonly used words in the English-speaking world, where many wages and salaries and most social security benefits are paid on a fortnightly basis, except North America, where it is rare outside of some Canadian regions and insular traditional communities (e.g. Amish) in the United States. American and Canadian payroll systems may use the term biweekly in reference to pay periods every two weeks. Neither term should be confused with semimonthly (in one year there are 26 fortnightly or biweekly versus 24 semimonthly pay periods).
In astronomy, a fortnight is half a synodic month, the mean average time between a full moon and a new moon (and vice versa). This is equal to 14.77 days. In the Hindu calendar this period is called a Paksha (also Paksa) and consists of 15 Tithi.
In many languages, there is no single word for a two-week period and the equivalents of "two weeks", "14 days" or (counting inclusively) "15 days" have to be used. Among the romance languages, there are the terms quincena (or quince días) in Spanish and Galician, quindicina (Italian), quinzena (Portuguese and Catalan), and quinzaine (French), all meaning "15 days"; Italian also has the word "bisettimanale", literally meaning biweekly. Similarly, in Greek, the term δεκαπενθήμερο (dekapenthímero), meaning "15 days", is also used. In Hebrew, the single-word (shvu′ayim) שבועיים means exactly "two weeks". The Hindu calendar uses the Sanskrit word "paksha" to mean one half of a lunar month, which is between 14 and 15 solar days. In Welsh, the term pythefnos, meaning "15 nights", is used instead. This is in keeping with the Welsh term for a week, which is wythnos ("eight nights"). In Irish, the term coicís and in Czech the terms čtrnáctidenní and dvoutýdenní have the same meaning as fortnight.