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Trimester in English can be either three or four months.
In the academic context, we think of a trimester as being a third of a year, four months, or a quarter. Pregnancy-speak, the trimester is three months because it is one-third of the duration of a nine-month pregnancy.
Totally confusing, but I suppose there is some sense in it...
Are you sure? In the schools I have attended where there is two active sessions and then summer, it is called a semester.
An academic term (or simply "term") is a portion of an academic year, the time during which an educational institution holds classes. The schedules adopted vary widely.
A quarter system divides the academic year into four terms, one per season, with attendance required in three quarters per year to total 32 to 36 weeks of instruction.
A semester system divides the academic year into two terms of equal length, with attendance required in both semesters to total 32 to 36 weeks of instruction. There is often an optional summer session half as long as a full semester.
A trimester system divides the academic year into three terms of 14 to 16 weeks each, with attendance required in two trimesters per year, to total 28 to 32 weeks of instruction. The trimester evolved from the semester system in the 1960s and, thus, is compatible with it (i.e. it is simply a semester shortened from 16–18 weeks to 14–16 weeks). The spring-summer trimester may be a full trimester or may be divided into distinct spring and summer half-trimester or shorter sessions, in which classes meet double-time (or greater) to provide the same instruction that would be received in a full trimester.
It is good to now understand the Latin roots of these words which I can now relate to Portuguese in several words each.
Trimester also applies financially as each 3 months of the year is a trimester, or quarter for tax purposes.
Some have said that "trimester" can refer to a three month period, and dictionary.com says that is true, but I've never heard it used that way except to refer to pregnancy.
In academics (in the US at least), trimester is only used if the school year is divided into 3 terms. If two terms, semester is used (this is more typical); if 4 terms, quarter is used.
I am not sure in England or US, ... But in France Trimestre is 3 months mostly used at high school, where we have three trimestre of school and 1 of vacation. A term is more often four months and almost never used, a semester is 6 months usually used at university level. In Canada where I studied a few months, the had 3 term of 4 months. Autumn, then winter and the summer term May until August was optional. I would say a trimestre has to be 3 months because of etymology Tri =3. A quarter is probably 3 months too as it is a quarter of the year and a better word than trimester in academia I have almost never heard trimestre in English academia. Term is vague and could refer to any number of months. Semester is for six months. But then, my experience is that each University or School will use say semester even if they last 5 months... Logic may not always be behind it. Thus with no context I would use term to translate Trimestre as it does not imply a number of months. Beside, what does it mean the trimesters are long, ... does it means they last longer than three months? Or that time is passing slowly and thus the trimester seem longer than it should.
I think in most cases academically it means to break the school year up into 2, 3, or 4 lengths of time (each one called a term). In elementary school we had 4 quarters (when grades came) and in college we had 3 (but we had shorter terms so we were out earlier for summer and came back later for fall). A semester at University breaks the academic year up to 2 terms. Term being the time between grades/new classes whether quarter, trimester, or semester (semester has a root in half such as semi, sem, se = semiannual or half yearly).
Some count the summer break as a term though so that a quarter term is only one of three in the academic year but out of four in a calendar year). Apparently trimester also becomes much like a semester in this way.
There are a few colleges that use trimesters instead of semesters. I know of one where there was a fall, winter, and spring trimester (aka term), and everyone was free (no classes) during the summer. Also, students there only took 3 classes each trimester. This is cool, as there is less spreading of attention, this more focus. The students really liked the trimester system over the usual semester system.
"O trimestre é longo" but "A saia é comprida" - are "longo" and "comprido" synonyms?