Feb·ru·ar·y (fĕbr-ĕr′ē, fĕby-)
n. pl. Feb·ru·ar·ies
The second month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. See Table at calendar.
[Middle English Februarie, from Latin Februārius (mēnsis), (month) of purification, from februa, expiatory offerings, possibly of Sabine origin.]
Usage Note: The preferred pronunciation among usage writers is (fĕbr-ĕr′ē), but in actual usage the pronunciation (fĕby-ĕr′ē) is far more common and so cannot be considered incorrect. The loss of the first r in this pronunciation can be accounted for by the phonological process known as dissimilation, whereby one of two similar or identical sounds in a word is changed or dropped so that a repetition of that sound is avoided. In the case of February, the loss of the first r was also helped along by the influence of January, which has only one r.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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