So I have a boss from Ireland that works out of the UK. He tells me that he is on leave for a half term? What is he talking about?

  • 1
    Although school terms are usually 10-12 weeks long, he might not mean he's on leave for 5-6 weeks (half of a term). Without more context it's impossible to know, but I'd have thought quite likely he means he's on leave for a/the half-term [holiday] (i.e. - he's off work for the same week or so that most schoolchildren have as "holiday" between the two halves of the term). Feb 14, 2014 at 22:31

2 Answers 2


Term as in part of an academic year, more often called semesters in the US, though strictly that only applies to two-term systems and Irish schools tend to use trimesters, though many third-level institutions changed to semesters relatively recently.

Schools often have a break in the middle of the term, called half-term, of which one is coming up soon, the exact time depending on the school. This break is normally relatively short, around a week.

If you aren't in an academic field yourself, I'd guess that their children will be on a half-term break, and they are taking to be with them.

  • Seems like the break would be a few weeks right? Feb 14, 2014 at 18:58
  • @RyeBread Half-terms in the UK usually last one week, there's one between Christmas and Easter, one before the summer holidays, and one sometime around October or November, I can't remember which. Schools in the UK will end in mid-July for six weeks. More info here: citizensinformation.ie/en/education/…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 14, 2014 at 19:17
  • Wow - So the kids only get 3 weeks off per year? @Mari-LouA Feb 14, 2014 at 19:22
  • No, they do have Christmas, Easter and the summer holidays too.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 14, 2014 at 19:24
  • @RyeBread Half-term signifies when the break occurs, not how long it is. In the U.S., we could call it a mid-term break, though people almost always use more specific names, e.g. fall break and spring break. After all, for schools on the quarter system, spring break falls in between terms, not in the middle of one.
    – choster
    Feb 14, 2014 at 19:24

From the Cambridge English dictionary: in the UK, a short holiday in the middle of each of the three periods into which the school year is divided http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/half-term?q=half-term

  • So how many days is he off? Feb 14, 2014 at 18:45
  • Like the summer holiday between school years, the exact amount of time can vary depending on the school or schools in question. I recommend that you ask your boss.
    – Tristan r
    Feb 14, 2014 at 18:48
  • So you say that half-term is a variable time period that is created by the school system? Feb 14, 2014 at 18:49
  • It's part of the calendar for all schools in the UK and happens at about the same time in all of them. Jon Hanna gave a good explanation in his answer.
    – Tristan r
    Feb 14, 2014 at 19:09

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