biweekly: happening or appearing every two weeks or twice a week. Cambridge Dictionary

In the following news articles, What the author mean by "bi-weekly"? if it is mean "two weeks" or "twice a week", Why doesn't they use a specific term to make it clear for readers?

Niantic was, by its own admission, caught off-guard by the sheer popularity of Pokemon Go, but it has pledged to continue supporting the game with bi-weekly updates. BBC

She's lived on Brexit Street for 18 months now but knows no-one. She only goes out to walk to her bi-weekly English lessons or to the drop-in centre round the corner. BBC

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    I would say in the first case they mean every two weeks, as seems more a reasonable update schedule for software. Similarly, I would say twice a week for the English lessons because sounds more plausible. In any case, I'm surprised they didn't use fortnightly to express every two weeks though.
    – Arehandoro
    Mar 8, 2017 at 14:46
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    This, in my view, is an unnecessary ambiguity in English. I've struggled with it my whole life. Every time the word comes up I have to search the context for some other clue. That said, in terms of publications most of the time it means "every two weeks."
    – Robusto
    Mar 8, 2017 at 15:01
  • @Karasu-O-Matic: "Fortnightly" is pretty much obsolete, at least in American English. A pity.
    – Robusto
    Mar 8, 2017 at 15:02
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    According to biweekly referring to twice a week: "2. (AmE) Rare - twice a week. In this sense, semiweekly is the preferred term." Honestly I would just use "twice a week".
    – user3169
    Mar 8, 2017 at 22:06
  • 1
    Fortnight is still commonly used in BrE. For me, once every two weeks is fortnightly, twice a week is twice a week, bi-weekly is confusing.
    – Chris M
    Mar 9, 2017 at 6:55

2 Answers 2


In biweekly the prefix bi- applies to the week rather than to the events that occur, therefore giving the sense of “every two weeks”.

In the meaning of "occurring two times a week", the term may appear chiefly in British English to be used when the context allows to clearly differentiate (as was shown in the previous answer) between the two meanings--occurring every two weeks or twice a week.

In situations where there's a possibility of any ambiguity, for the sake of clarity, it is recommended to use "twice a week" or "once every two weeks" accordingly instead of biweekly.

In some parts of the UK to describe an event happening once every two weeks, the term "fortnightly" is also common.

The source.


Unfortunately, "biweekly" is a word that is often used in both contexts, so it is an ambiguous word.

From the context, I am going to guess that the first excerpt is "once every two weeks," and the second excerpt is "twice in one week." This is because of what each sentence is talking about. A game/app developer releasing bug fixes twice a week seems too often to me, so I think once every two weeks is a more reasonable timeline to code things to improve the app. As for the English classes, attending class once every two weeks seems like that is not nearly enough to learn and remember any information from the class. So, I guess that she is attending class twice in one week - which is typical for college classes. Plus, that would still make sense if she does not know many people if she only goes to that one class and a drop-in center - she is not super social.

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