"year containing 366 days," late 14c., lepe gere (not in Old English), from leap (v.) + year. Probably so called from its causing fixed festival days, which normally advance one weekday per year, to "leap" ahead one day in the week. Compare Medieval Latin saltus lunae (Old English monan hlyp) "omission of one day in the lunar calendar every 19 years."
Dutch schrikkeljaar "leap year" is from Middle Dutch schricken "leap forward," literally "be startled, be in fear." The 29th of February is schrikkeldag. Danish skudaar, Swedish skottår are literally "shoot-year;" German schaltjahr is from schalten "insert, intercalate." The Late Latin phrase was annus bissextilis, source of the Romanic words; compare bissextile.
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