Would the compound pentaminutely (from penta- and minutely) be correct in describing an event that occurs every five-minutes? Or is there a better word?

Edit: For clarity, I'm looking to name an object in a programming model so it is clear by the name what the object represents. I am trying to avoid writing a short novel to describe the name in the object model.

  • 2
    Time is measured with Latin words (quinquennium, century, mensural, diurnal), so I guess at quinqueminutal. But "every five minutes" is far more easily understood!
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 22, 2013 at 0:29
  • 1
    "I'm looking to name an object in a programming model so it is clear by the name what the object represents." So... if you don't know for sure, it will never be clear to anyone reading the code either, unless they Google it and find this discussion. Jan 22, 2013 at 1:31
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    As an aside, is it wise to name your object with a 'configuration-data'-type name? What if later you decide that 5 minutes isn't quite right and that every 320 seconds is better?
    – Jim
    Jan 22, 2013 at 1:52
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    The TL;DR of this page is "Yes, but no one uses it and most wouldn't understand." Incidentally, we just had a chat in my department about an old use of "pentaminutely" in our system. Three of four in our team understood it.
    – Umbrella
    Jul 6, 2015 at 20:32
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    I would take it to mean a tiny pentagon.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 17, 2017 at 4:45

1 Answer 1


You mean every 3 hectoseconds?

Uncommon combinations of multipliers and time units are made use of in a tongue-in-cheek manner in some communities (one VMS setting was measured in microfortnights), and in those pentaminutely would be guessed at and the unusual construction appreciated with smiles or groans.

Outside of those, it would not. Even five-minutely has issues, since minutely is rarely used (presumably because it can be confused with minutely meaning by a very small amount).

A great way of expressing this would be "repeating every five minutes". In some technical contexts, then "repeating with a five-minute period" would work well, but the sense of period that refers to a regularly repeating interval isn't as well known as other senses, so it wouldn't serve as well for all audiences.


Just say your edit on it being in a computer object model. pentaminute would be fine if your coding standards allow a modicum of humour in naming. Otherwise fiveMinuteRepeater or fiveMinutePeriod etc. is clear and to the point.

(Incidentally, hectosecond is an SI unit that complies fine with ISO 8000. Just don't actually ever use it for anything).

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    The distance between pentaminute and penultimate seems almost ridiculously close. :) As for the other, sounds like a heck of a second thought.
    – tchrist
    Jan 22, 2013 at 1:27
  • @tchrist which while a good reason not to use then 99% of the time, makes them all the funnier for the tongue-in-cheek use.
    – Jon Hanna
    Jan 22, 2013 at 8:57
  • I first read ISO 8000 as a film speed. :)
    – tchrist
    Jan 22, 2013 at 10:47
  • @tchrist, ah, that would be interpreting "ISO 8000" as an ISO 12232 film speed that you would decide upon after consulting an ISO 2720 light meter. I can remember a disturbingly large quantity of these numbers, but admit I had to look those up. It is a tad ambiguous that the speeds are referred to in the same format as the standards themselves.
    – Jon Hanna
    Jan 22, 2013 at 11:23

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