leap year


leap year
1. (in the Gregorian calendar) a year that contains 366 days, with February 29 as an additional day: occurring in years whose last two digits are evenly divisible by four, except for centenary years not divisible by 400.
2. a year containing an extra day or extra month in any calendar. Cf. common year.
[1350-1400; ME lepe yere]

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      year containing some intercalary period, especially a Gregorian (Gregorian calendar) year having a 29th day of February instead of the standard 28 days. The astronomical year, the time taken for the Earth to complete its orbit around the Sun, is about 365.242 days, or, to a first approximation, 365.25 days. To account for the odd quarter day, an extra calendar day is added every four years, as was first done in 46 BC, with the establishment of the Julian calendar. Over many centuries, the difference between the approximate value 0.25 day and the more accurate 0.242 day accumulates significantly. In the Gregorian calendar now in general use, the discrepancy is adjusted by adding the extra day to only those century years exactly divisible by 400 (e.g., 1600, 2000). For still more precise reckoning, every year evenly divisible by 4,000 (i.e., 16,000, 24,000, etc.) may be a common (not leap) year.

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Universalium. 2010.

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