[M.M.X.I.V. 16] Every other Thursday

Today is the third Thursday of January, which means that it is the day for an SPG show.  They are the graduate student improv group at Northwestern, and I have enjoyed watching their shows and participating in their open practices as well.

When I was chatting with another regular of the open practices, an interesting point came up.  When I mentioned that there are open practices on each Thursday except for the third Thursday, actually to Rabbi Aaron who was also in the audience, I mentioned “every other Thursday.”

But wait.  The phrase “every other <TIME PERIOD>” always seems to imply, on a schedule of <TIME PERIODS,> that the schedule is On/Off/On/Off/On/Off, etc.  However, the thing I am looking for is, for the open practices and (Time Period = Thursday), On/On/Off/On/(On).

Let’s take a look at the denotation of the word “every,” and also some similar words like “each” and “all”.  All definitions are taken from my pocket dictionary:

EVERY (a.) 1. Each of a group 2. All possible.  —Every now and then: Occasionally. —Every other: each alternate

EACH (a., pron.) Every one of two or more.

ALL (a.) 1. The whole of, 2. every one of 3. complete … (more definitions in non-adjectives)

So, the slightly annoying thing about this is that the definition of “each” contains the word “every,” a definition of the word “all” contains the word “every,” and the definitions of “every” both contain the other words “each” and “all.”

However, I’d still like to use the word “other” in an expression in order to describe the pattern On/On/Off/On/(On) for the Thursdays of each month.  I think that either “each other Thursday” or “all other Thursdays.”

Readers?  Which one sounds better?  Or is there an even better phrase to describe this?


Today is the sixteenth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes two weeks and two days.


2 thoughts on “[M.M.X.I.V. 16] Every other Thursday

  1. Tricky one, Noah – and I see what you mean about the word definitions! ‘All other Thursdays’ sounds the better of the two options to me. I was thinking, ‘three out of four Thursdays,’ but then caught myself out in a, ‘What if one month has five Thursdays?’ loop. Your post makes me realise anew why the English language is such a nightmare for non-native speakers to learn! We take such verbal conundrums (conundra?) for granted, and accept a certain level of baffled frustration, but for anyone learning the language from scratch…


    • Yes indeed. Idiosyncrasies of language like that tended to throw me off even more when I was younger and took everything literally.

      In some sense, “every other” is an idiom!


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