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Q From Harry Yeatts: Out of curiosity, I’ve been researching the derivations of the months of the year. Fascinating stuff this. January: Janus, etc. Haven’t had any real difficulty except with April, for some reason. Can you help?

A Most older books say that the name for the month, which was used in the Latin calendar in the form Aprilis, comes from the word aperire, “to open”, and referred to the springtime budding of trees and flowers. This is no longer thought likely, and the explanation in most dictionaries is that Aprilis probably came into Latin by way of the Etruscan apru from a Greek word that was a shortened form of Aphrodite. So the implication is that in Latin it probably meant “the month of Venus”, which still has a strong procreational association, but differently expressed.

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Page created 19 Sep 1998