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Blursday or Whensday?

We needed a word for the day of the week when you don't actually know what day of the week it is, and people delivered.

By
Mignon Fogarty
2-minute read
Episode #781
A woman who doesn't know whether it's Blursday or Whensday.
The Quick And Dirty

"Blursday" is a popular word to use when you don't know what day of the week it is. It captures that disoriented feeling when everything is a blur.

A new study by U.K. researchers found that you are not alone: It really does feel like time is distorted when we’re strictly staying home and alone during the pandemic.

Only about 20% of the people they surveyed felt like time was passing normally, but of the 80% who felt like the passage of time was altered, half felt like it was going faster, and half felt like it was going slower. The people who felt like time was dragging by tended to be older, bored, and lonely; and the people who felt like time was speeding by tended to be younger and much busier, like parents juggling jobs and children. Whoosh. There went another day.

But whether it feels like time is going fast or slow, one thing researchers think is altering the perception of time is that many of us have lost our routines. We don’t have to leave the house by a certain time to make it to work or to get the kids to school, and weekends can be a lot like weekdays. 

And that’s where we get to the words because people seem to want a word to describe the feeling of not knowing what day of the week it is.

Nancy Friedman, a corporate naming expert who goes by @fritinancy on Twitter, has been publishing semi-regular round-ups of new words related to the coronavirus, and her most recent update included both “Blursday” and “Whensday.” And I love them both!

Searching Twitter shows that both words were in use before the pandemic, but they’ve dramatically picked up steam since the first stay-at-home orders were put in place.

If you’re wondering exactly how these words are used, here’s a fun example I found on Twitter.

Professor Tricia Wood wrote, “Just wrapped up a meeting with a colleague and wished her a nice weekend, whereupon she kindly advised me it is Tuesday. #what

And Neil Hanlon replied, “Been there. Happened last Blursday.”

I did a poll to see which word people liked better, and about 2/3 liked “Blursday” more than “Whensday,” and in the end, I have to side with the Blursday camp because it works better when you’re speaking than “Whensday,” which just sounds like the regular name of the week, so you lose the whole effect.

Blursday wins the Twitter poll.

While I was scouting around looking at examples of these words, I found others too. People have used:

Interestingly, “Wheresday” is out there too, but it seems less common than the others that start with question words—maybe because it has such a strong sense of place instead of time. At least that’s my guess.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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