Term of the Week: Lent


Lent is en vogue. People abstain from alcohol, chocolate, or other specific food groups for a certain period of time. However, many of the fasting trends are not related to religious traditions anymore. They aim for weight loss and physical and mental health improvement. Intermittent fasting gained a lot of media attention in the last couple of months, for example, the 2:5 diet. This diet suggests eating normally five days a week and fasting two days. The fact that Hippocrates and Plato were already fasting for health reason shows how old this practice is. Fasting does not necessarily involve abstention from food. There are no limits on what to abstain from and people get creative. For example, some try to reduce their social media use and plastic consumption, or practice financial fasting.

The Oxford dictionary defines Lent as a “period of fasting and penitence, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending shortly before Easter, observed in the Christian Church in commemoration of the time Jesus spent in the wilderness. Now also: a period of fasting or abstinence observed at the same time in secular culture.” Etymologically, the term Lent or Lenten derives from the Old English lencte, which means “spring,” the season Lent is traditionally practiced in. This word comes from the West Germanic langitinaz meaning “lengthening of the day.” There is a similar Dutch word lente and an old German word Lenz, both meaning spring. So, the religious meaning of the word Lent is particular to the English language.


O’Connor, A. (2016, March 07). Fasting Diets Are Gaining Acceptance. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/03/07/intermittent-fasting-diets-are-gaining-acceptance/

Oxford English Dictionary, Lent.  (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2019, from http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/107293?rskey=fT2Fa5&result=3#eid

Singletary, M. (2018, January 19). Want to save more money? Try these three financial fasts. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/want-to-save-more-money-try-these-three-financial-fasts/2018/01/19/0ac5556a-fc9e-11e7-ad8c-ecbb62019393_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c4e950804151

Etymonline, Lent (n.). (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://www.etymonline.com/word/lent

Written by Annemarie Menger – Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master’s Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a teacher’s degree in the form of the First German State Examination for Elementary Education, a BA in Cultural Basic Skills and an additional degree in Global Systems and Intercultural Competence from the University of Würzburg.