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Michaelmas term


This page has two definitions of Michaelmas term in English. Michaelmas term is a noun. Also define these 24 related words and terms: law, first, term, legal, year, run, October, December, upper, court, England and Wales, Ireland, sit, hear, case, per curiam, education, academic, university, Oxford, Cambridge, educational, institution, and model.



The Royal Courts of Justice in London, UK, the seat of the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. In these courts, Michaelmas term is the first term of the legal year, running from October to December.

From Michaelmas +‎ term; Michaelmas is from Michael (the name of the biblical archangel) + -mas (suffix indicating a holiday or sacred day). Michael is derived from Late Latin Michahel, from Koine Greek Μιχαήλ (Mikhaḗl), from Biblical Hebrew מִיכָאֵל(mîḵāʾēl, who is like God?); while -mas is from mass, from Middle English masse, from Old English mæsse (mass (celebration of the Eucharist)), from Vulgar Latin *messa (Eucharist; dismissal), from Late Latin missa, a noun use of the feminine past participle of Latin mittere, the present active infinitive of mittō (to dispatch, send; to discharge, release; to dismiss), possibly ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *meytH- (to exchange). The Christian feast day of Michaelmas, 29 September, occurs a few days before the start of this term.



Michaelmas term (plural Michaelmas terms)

  1. (law) The first term of the legal year, running from October to December, during which the upper courts of England and Wales, and Ireland, sit to hear cases.
    • 1772, Henry Barnes, “Stratford against Marshall”, in Notes of Cases in Points of Practice Taken in the Courts of Common Pleas at Westminster; from Michaelmas Term 1732, to Hilary Term 1756 inclusive. [], 2nd edition, London: [] W[illiam] Strahan and M. Woodfall, []; for William Owen, [], OCLC 642757278, pages 440–441:
      A Rule was made for the Plaintiff to ſhew Cauſe why the Trial ſhould not be reſpited till Michaelmas Term next upon Affidavits that a material Witneſs for Defendant was gone to Sea, and was not expected home till Auguſt next. [] Per Cur[iam]: Let the Rule be abſolute, it being ſworn that the Witneſs is not expected to return till Auguſt next. The Trial muſt be put off till Michaelmas Term, without farther motion.
    • 1839, Charles [Favell Forth] Wordsworth, “Cases Determined upon the New Rules and Statutes since the Publication of the Last Edition”, in Supplement to the Rules of Court, from Michaelmas Term, 1830, to the Present Time, including those on Pleading; [], London: A. Maxwell, [], OCLC 47874400, page ccccv:
      In Robinson v. Taylor, 5 Dowl. 518, which was a country cause, and issue had been joined in Easter vacation; no notice of trial for the summer assizes; it was held that it was not too early to move in the following Michaelmas term.
    • 1845, R. Levinge Swift, “Appendix. Lord Lyndhurst’s Orders of 3rd April, 1828, (Amended by Lord Brougham’s Orders, 23rd November, 1831.)”, in The Orders of the High Court of Chancery, from Hilary Term 1828 to Trinity Term 1845, as at Present Applicable to the Practice: [], London: Owen Richards, [], OCLC 39819865, pages 8–9:
      [Order] XIX. That whenever the time allowed for any of the following purposes, that is to say, for amending any bill, for filing, delivering, and referring exceptions to any answer, or for obtaining a Master's report upon any exceptions, would expire in the interval between the last seal after Trinity term and the first seal before Michaelmas term, or between the last seal after Michaelmas term and the first seal before Hilary term, such time shall extend to and include the day of the general seal then next ensuing.
    • Run definition
      To move swiftly.
      1. To move forward quickly upon two feet by alternately making a short jump off either foot. (1 of 59 run definitions)
    • Court definition
      An enclosed space; a courtyard; an uncovered area shut in by the walls of a building, or by different buildings; also, a space opening from a street and nearly surrounded by houses; a blind alley. (1 of 15 court definitions)
    • Sit definition
      To be in a position in which the upper body is upright and supported by the buttocks. (1 of 18 sit definitions)
    • Per Curiam definition
      An opinion delivered by an entire court rather than a single judge.
  2. (education) The first academic term of the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin, and other educational institutions, running from October to December; the term was modelled after the legal term, but does not begin and end on the same dates.
    • 1813, “University Terms, and How Many are Required to be Kept for each Degree”, in The Oxford University Calendar, for the Year 1813, Oxford: [] Munday and Slatter, for J. Parker; and F[rancis] C[harles] and J[ames] Rivington, [], OCLC 270591918, page 65:
      There are four terms in the year, viz. 1. Michaelmas term, which begins on the 10th of October, and ends on the 17th of December.
    • 1838, James Thomas O’Brien, “Note F.—Page 5.”, in An Introductory Lecture Delivered in the Divinity School in Trinity College, Dublin, on the First Lecture Day of Michaelmas term, 1837, Dublin: Milliken and Son, []; London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, OCLC 31275541, page 71:
      Archbishop King's Lecturer lectures, for the two first Terms, upon the Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion, with a special reference to the objections against them, and in the third Term, upon the Socinian Controversy. The course of his Assistants is— / Michaelmas Term.—The Gospel of St. Luke, in Greek, as the basis of a harmony. []
    • University definition
      Institution of higher education (typically accepting students from the age of about 17 or 18, depending on country, but in some exceptional cases able to take younger students) where subjects are studied and researched in depth and degrees are offered.

Usage notes

Coordinate terms



  1. ^ “Practice Direction 39B – Court Sittings”, in Ministry of Justice[1], 16 May 2014, archived from the original on 27 March 2016, paragraphs 1.1(1)(a) and 1.1(1A).
  2. ^ “Rules of the Superior Courts”, in Courts Service Ireland[2], accessed 9 November 2016, archived from the original on 1 April 2016, Order 118(1).

Further reading