1580s (n.); 1590s (adj.), in reference to Roman leap year, from Late Latin (annus) bisextilis "leap year," more literally "the twice sixth-day, (a year) containing a second sixth (day)." To keep the Julian calendar consistent with the sun, the sixth day (by inclusive reckoning) before the Calends of March was doubled every four years. The date corresponds to our February 24th. From Latin bissextus/bisextis (dies), from bis "twice" (see bis-) + sextus "sixth (day before the First of March)," from sex "six" (see six).
updated on June 12, 2020