The OALD says that weekend could be used to mean "Saturday and Sunday, or a slightly longer period." The example sentence is the following one:

He won a weekend for two in Rome.

How can I understand when weekend is used to mean just Saturday and Sunday, and when it is used to mean a slightly longer period? How much longer is slightly longer?

up vote 9 down vote accepted

A weekend, technically, is just Saturday and Sunday - but it is often simply used to mean the period between when a person is working on one week and when they start working on the next. This is the colloquial usage in the following phrases:

It's 5:30 (PM) on Friday. My phone is going off, I'm not going to respond to emails, and I'll be back on Monday. The weekend for me starts now!.

Since Monday is a Bank Holiday(1), have you got anything planned for the long weekend?

I'm going to take Friday off work and take the wife on a romantic weekend to Paris.

For holidays which include either the Monday immediately following a weekend or the Friday before (or both), the holiday can be colloquially described a long weekend.

(1) A Bank Holiday is a UK National Holiday.

  • +1 Robert Graves and Alan Hodge titled their fascinating social history of England between the two world wars The Long Week-End. – StoneyB Apr 14 '13 at 16:18
  • To make another example, supposing that Thursday is holiday, I take a day off on Friday, and Monday is still holiday, for me the weekend would be from Thursday to Monday. Did I understand correctly, or would this be a too long period to be called weekend? – kiamlaluno Apr 14 '13 at 16:20
  • @kiamlaluno: Thursday to Monday inclusive could still be a weekend, but once you're taking three days + 2 days weekend off, it starts looking more like a week's vacation (US) / week's holiday (UK). There's no hard and fast rule though. – Matt Apr 14 '13 at 16:24

The meaning is, he won a PRIZE. This prize was "a weekend for two in Rome." As for how "weekend" is defined, that is at the discretion of the issuer of the prize. In this case, it would mostly depend on if the hotel accommodations were paid for just one night (Saturday), or for two (Friday and Saturday). So it could be shorter, but not likely longer, than the usual "weekend."

Without any other context, I would assume that the guy won a hotel room for a Friday night and a Saturday night. That's the minimum it could be, I think. The maximum is probably adding a Thursday night or a Monday night. And "a weekend in Rome" might also mean that his meals and transportation were provided.

As others have written, three or four nights might be called a "long weekend".

The key is that if somebody told me I won a weekend in Rome, the first question I'd have is "Is that Friday and Saturday night only, or is Thursday included?" I wouldn't be surprised by either answer. My second question would be "Does that include meals and transportation to and within Rome?"

I am from the USA.

  • Very good point. The usage is by an ADVERTISER (probably an American one). Such a "user" would have an incentive to keep the "weekend" short. – Tom Au Apr 17 '13 at 19:11

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