For a while I ponder on some words that I have not been able to find. I always wondered why, since English is so huge compared to my native Danish where we do have the following two words:

  1. A word for a 24-hour period. I found the Greek one: nychthemeron. "It is sometimes used, especially in technical literature, to avoid the ambiguity inherent in the term day."
    I of course know the word day which we have in Danish too, but we also (along with other languages) have a specific word for a 24-hour period.

  2. The adjective of solidarity — so we have sympathetic but not solidaric — can anyone tell me why we can be sympathetic to a cause but have to show solidarity?
    Is solidary to solidarity what sympathetic is to sympathy? Any usage examples?
    I am interested in any etymologic reason why it is not solidaric (Greek root versus French root?)

In Danish I can say I am solidaric to your cause.
I cannot hear myself saying I am solidary to your cause.

  • 5
    Lexical gaps and untranslatability. 'Nuff said.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jan 25, 2011 at 10:44
  • 1
    Of course they did, however the word I used is Greek. Thanks for making me notice
    – mplungjan
    Feb 12, 2011 at 15:54
  • 1
    Funny, we have words for those in Dutch too: etmaal and solidair. Mar 1, 2011 at 22:14
  • 1
    English day means 'a 24-hour period'. To refer specifically and unequivocally to a 24-hour period starting and stopping and midnight, you need to use something like calendar day.
    – Marthaª
    Mar 1, 2011 at 23:42
  • 2
    @Marthaª English day also means the period between dawn and dusk. If for some reason you are restricted to day-driving only, you can’t weasel out of it by claiming that the night is part of the day; it isn’t.
    – tchrist
    Jan 7, 2013 at 7:56

4 Answers 4


For your first point I found words such as hemeral and circadian, though there are more concept centered around a 24-hour period, but simply using the word day, as suggested by @FX_ would be the way to go, although ambiguous, but there doesn't seems to be another "English" word which would fit the bill.

On the second point, you have the word solidary, but also solidarily, which is an adverb defined as "showing solidarity". As such, we can safely assume that solidary is the adjective for the same concept.

EDIT: As for the fact that solidary against sympathetic, sympathetic comes from the Latin sympatheticus and sympathy has its own Latin words sympathia, both of each having Ancient Greek origin (sympathetikos and sympatheia), while both solidary and solidarity comes from the French solidaire which itself comes from the french word solide which has its roots in the Latin solidus, but this time not in the Greek.

  • Not Greek sumpathtikos, from sumpatheia ?
    – mplungjan
    Jan 25, 2011 at 10:49
  • @mplungjan yes, they only did a stop in the Latin vocabulary meanwhile. I will add this precision though.
    – Eldroß
    Jan 25, 2011 at 10:52
  1. day (noun) 1. a period of twenty-four hours as a unit; if you want to refer to the natural rhythm of 24 hour period, the adjective is circadian

  2. solidary (adjective) (of a group or community) characterized by solidarity or coincidence of interests

    • “Judge imposes ‘solidary bail’ for poor respondents”
    • “Incentives for a solidary globalization”
    • “Repression and solidary cultures of resistance”

Day is the English term for the 24 hour period of a calendar. Night is the dark part, and Daytime is the light part. Daytime is then shortened to Day when the context is clear which you are talking about.


Day is one of the time extent words that have both Calendric and Non-Calendric senses. The non-calendric sense refers to any 24-hour period, regardless of starting point, while the calendric sense goes like calendar numbering, from midnight to midnight. So day is the right word, provided it's used in the right constructions.

As Fillmore explains it in the Deixis Lectures:

"When nature provides sequentially recurring event types having apparently the same duration, these event types can be used to provide measuring units for temporal extent. The recurring event types that are most constant and most common and most accessible to ordinary observers are the daily alternation of light and dark, changes in how the moon looks to us, and the apparent annual course of the sun accompanied by the regularly recurring changes in the seasons.

"These particular event types are cycles which do not involve the sequencing of discrete separable events, and so, when they are used for providing units of measure, it is necessary to identify recurrences of the same phase of the cycle. Those phases which seem to have constant temporal extenst between successions of them are, for example, the full moon, the most vertical position of the sun, the shortest day of the year, etc.

"If these cycles are to be taken only as units of measure, it makes no difference which phase of the cycle is taken as the starting point for the measurement. If, however, these events are to provide concepts for locating events in "absolute time", then there is a special need for fixed-phase units, time units which have been assigned fixed starting points recognizable, in principle, by all members of the speech community. Time measure periods taken only as units of measure we can call Non-Calendric. Time measure periods having fixed starting points can be called Calendric.

"Many of the time measure words in English have both calendric and non-calendric uses, for example, the word year. If I say that the time between noon on June 28, 1972 and noon on June 28, 1973 is one year, I am using the word year non-calendrically. On the other hand, if I use the expression last year, meaning the period of time between the beginning of January 1, 1970 and the end of December 31, 1970, I am using the word year in its calendric sense."

  • Consider children who are allowed to play outside by day but not by night, or people who work the day shift versus those who work the night shift. In other words, what about the kind of day that is the opposite of night? That kind of day fits neither of your two definitions as far as I can tell, which seems to show that they do not together define all possible sorts of time. When I work all day, I assure you I do not work 24 hours!
    – tchrist
    Jan 7, 2013 at 8:00
  • That's simply a modified sense of day for a special purpose, just as car in the sense of cattle car is a special use of the word for automobile. Fillmore is trying to explain the basic concepts these special uses come from. If he tried to explain all the variation, he'd never finish. Jan 7, 2013 at 14:47

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