The 7 days of the week in French: + Meaning & surprising ancient origins

Here’s a list of the 7 days of the week in French, their curious ancient origins and the meaning and etymology of their names.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
7 french days of the week in French
7 french days of the week in French

Here’s a list of the 7 days of the week in the French language, plus their curious ancient origins and meaning, which will help you memorize them forever.

What Are the 7 Days of the Week in the French language?

Before we dive into the etymology of the 7 days of the week in French, let’s establish their names in the order a French person would say them.

The week starts on Monday, not Sunday!

The week starts on Monday in France, not Sunday

If you’re from the United States, the UK, Canada and a few other countries, you’re probably used to seeing calendars that start the week on Sunday.

This tradition is rooted in religion and culture since Sunday is traditionally observed as the first day of the week and a day of rest and worship in Christianity.

However, in France and the rest of Europe, which uses the ISO 8601 standard, the first day of the week begins on Monday.

The ISO 8601 standard gives a way of presenting dates and times that are clearly defined and understandable to people from different time zones and cultures as well as machines.

What are the 7 days of the week in French, and how to pronounce them?

Day French Pronunciation
Monday lundi /lun-dee/
Tuesday mardi /mar-dee/
Wednesday mercredi /maire-cruh-dee/
Thursday jeudi /zhu-dee/
Friday vendredi /von-druh-dee/
Saturday samedi /sa-muh-dee/
Sunday dimanche /dee-monsh/

Abbreviation for the names of the 7 days of the week in French

Monday Mon lun. lundi
Tuesday Tues mar. mardi
Wednesday Wed mer. mercredi
Thursday Thurs jeu. jeudi
Friday Fri ven. vendredi
Saturday Sat sam. samedi
Sunday Sun dim. dimanche

The etymology of the 7 days of the week in French

With the exception of Saturday and Sunday, the days of the week in French are named after the planets of Hellenistic astrology, which are the seven classical planets easily seen with the naked eye.

They are the Moon, the planets Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and the Sun. (The sun and moon were once considered planets.)

Babylonians invented the 7-day week.

The origins of the seven-day week are often associated with the ancient Jews and the biblical story of how god created the earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th.

However, many historians believe that the Jews may have borrowed the idea of the 7-day week from the Babylonians (and Sumerians) from Mesopotamia, who lived in modern-day Iraq 4000 years ago.

The Babylonians spoke Akkadian, which is a member of the Semitic language family, like Arabic and Hebrew.

7 Babylonian gods and planets for seven days

The Babylonians used a system of naming and associating each day of the week with one of 7 celestial bodies they could see in the sky with the naked eye.

These seven celestial bodies were the Sun, Moon, and five planets, each associated with a god or goddess in their religious beliefs who shaped events on earth.

According to Cassius, a 3rd-century Christian historian and ancient astrologist, the sequence for the planets and days of the weeks that the Babylonians used was based on the visible movements of these planets in the sky during specific times of the day.


But rather than naming each planet after a god or planet, they used a numbering system with the sun being associated with the first day of the week, which they called “UD 1-nu” for Sunday and “UD 7- nu” for the 7th day of the week was associated with Saturn. 

In the Babylonian context, “Ud” means “Day of,” and “#-nu” is a numerical designation. So, “Ud 1-nu” specifically refers to the first day of the week, which is associated with the Sun.


The Babylonian system influenced Greco-Roman culture, but they assigned their own gods to these celestial bodies.

The Babylonian and Sumerian gods associated with each day of the week represented by a celestial body were:

Order English Celestial
(Babylonian / Sumerian)
Ud 1-nu Sunday Sun Shamash / Utu
(God of law and justice)
Ud 2-nu Monday Moon Sin / Nanna
(God of the Moon)
Ud 3-nu Tuesday Mars Nergal / Lugal
(God of the underworld, death, and plague)
Ud 4-nu Wednesday Mercury Nabu / Lumash
(God of knowledge, wisdom, writing, and messengers)
Ud 5-nu Thursday Jupiter Marduk / Latarak
Primary god of the Babylonians)
Ud 6-nu Friday Venus Ishtar / Inanna
(Goddess of love, beauty, sex, war, violence, and political power)
Ud 7-nu Saturday Saturn Likely a day of rest (shabbatu)
Ninurta was linked to Saturn due to its
slow and steady movement across the sky.

The Greeks renamed the gods of the 7 days of the week.

Later, the ancient Greeks from the Hellenistic period adopted the seven-day week but substituted the Babylonian god names with the names of their Greek deities, which also corresponded with the planets, sun and moon.

They were: Helios, Selene, Ares, Hermes, Zeus, Aphrodite, and Cronos, aka Kronos.

These days were only known to Greek astrologers and were not used by everyday people.

The Romans also renamed the gods for the 7 days of the week.

With the rise of the Roman Empire, the Romans substituted the Greek days of the week after their own Roman gods, which corresponded with the Greek gods. 

From there, the seven-day week spread to other civilizations, sometimes changing their names to their language and beliefs.

The Romance Languages best preserved the ancient Roman names for the days of the week.

Today, all Romance languages, which evolved from Latin, except for modern Portuguese and Mirandese, still use the Roman planetary god names for the days of the week.

This is why the days of the week sound so similar in different romance languages. 

For example, here’s the word for Tuesday in several romance languages.  

They sound similar in these languages because they are all based on the Roman God and the planet Mars.

  • French = Mardi
  • Spanish =  Martes
  • Italian = Martedi
  • Corsican = Marti
  • Romanian = Marţi
  • Occitan = Dimars
  • Catalan = Dimarts

In Occitan and Catalan, the word for Tuesday is inverted.

For example, in French, the word for Tuesday is Mardi (mar-di). But in Occitan and Catalan, you take the last syllable (di) and put it in front, which gives you dimars.

The Anglo-Saxons 

On the other hand, English is a Germanic language and uses a mix of Germanic, Norse and Roman names for the days of the week.

This is why some days of the week sound so different in English and French. 

Tuesday god of war Tyr or Tiw

The Anglo-Saxons renamed Tuesday through Friday after Norse gods while keeping Roman names for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Tuesday in English

For example, Tuesday in English gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon one-handed duelling god of war, Tiu, which became tīwesdæg (Tiu’s day) in old English.

Tiu is the Norse mythology equivalent to Týr, son of Odin and brother of Thor.

Wednesday in English

Wednesday in English comes from Woden, the Anglo-Saxon king of the gods, while in French, Wednesday is called “mercredi” from the planet and god Mercury. 

roman god of war mars
The French word for Tuesday is (Mardi) after Mars, the Roman god of war.

Original names of the Roman (and Greek) days of the week

7 planets of the week in English and French + Greek and Roman god names after which they were originally named

Here are the original days of the week names in Latin, the planet the day was named after in French and most romance languages, and the associated Greek and Roman gods. 

Lundi – Monday

Lundi Meaning: The French day of the week for Monday in French is “lundi,’ from the Latin name “Dies Lunae,” which means “Day of the Moon,” or “Moon Day.” Many languages have used the moon to reference this day, including German: “Montag,” Spanish: “lines,” Italian: “lunedì,” and Romanian: “luni;” 

Latin name: Dies Lunae (day of Luna)

  • Based on the: Moon
  • Latin name: Dies Lunae (day of Luna
  • Luna was the ancient Roman moon goddess
  • Selene was the Greek god’s name.

Mardi – Tuesday

Mardi Meaning: The literal meaning of the “mardi,”  the French day of the week for Tuesday, is “Day of Mars,” or “Mars’s Day,” from Latin Dies Martis (day of Mars). It’s named after the Roman god Mars, who was associated with war and is the equivalent of the planet Mars in the solar system. 

Latin name = Dies Martis (day of Mars)

  • Based on the Planet: Mars
  • Mars was the ancient Roman god of war
  • Ares was the Greek god’s name.

Mercredi – Wednesday

Mercredi meaning: The French day of the week for Wednesday is “mercredi,” from Latin  Dies Mercurii (day of Mercury). It’s named after the Roman god Mercury (or Hermes in Greek mythology.) Mercury was associated with communication, commerce, and travel. It is also the equivalent of the planet Mercury in the solar system. 

Latin name: Dies Mercurii (day of Mercury)

  • Based on the Planet: Mercury
  • Mercury was the messenger of the ancient Roman gods and the god of commerce.
  • Hermes was the Greek god’s name.

Jeudi – Thursday

Jeudi Meaning: The French word “Jeudi” for “Thursday” literally means “Jupiter’s Day” or “Day of Jupiter” from Latin Dies Jovis. It’s named after the Roman god Jupiter (equivalent to Zeus in Greek mythology), who was considered the king of the gods and associated with thunder and lightning.

Latin name: Dies Jovis (day of Jupiter)

  • Based on the planet: Jupiter, also called Jovis, Jove, Luppiter and Lovis
  • Jupiter, or Jove, was the king of the ancient Roman gods and god of sky and thunder.
  • Zeus was the Greek god’s name.

Vendredi – Friday

Vendredi Meaning: The French word “vendredi,” for Friday, is from the Latin “Dies Veneris,” which means “day of Venus.” It’s named after the Roman goddess Venus (equivalent to Aphrodite in Greek mythology), associated with love, beauty, and fertility. 

Latin name: Dies Veneris (day of Venus)

  • Based on the Planet: Venus
  • Venus was the ancient Roman goddess of love
  • Aphrodite was the Greek god’s name

Samedi – Saturday

Samedi Meaning (Day of the Sabbath): “Samedi,” French for “Saturday” in English, is from the Latin “Dies Sambati,” meaning “day of the Sabbath.” It’s named after the Jewish Sabbath, a day of rest and worship. 

Saturday has not always been known as “Samedi” in French. It was changed from “jour de Saturne” (Day of Saturn) from the Latin phrase “Dies Saturni” (day of Saturnus.) The transition from naming Saturday after Saturn to naming it in connection with the Sabbath (Day of the Sabbath) in French occurred during the early Middle Ages, around the 9th to 11th centuries. 

Latin name: Dies Saturni (day of Saturnus)

  • Based on the Planet: Saturn
  • Saturn was the Roman god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation.
  • Cronos, aka Kronos, was the Greek god’s name.

Dimanche – Sunday

Dimanche meaning (Day of the Lord): The French word for Sunday is “dimanche” from the Latin phrase “Dies Dominicus,” which means “Day of the Lord” or “Lord’s Day.  

According to the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus Christ was resurrected on the first day of the week, which is Sunday.

Sunday used to be called the “Day of the Sun.”

Before the early Middle Ages (around the 9th to 11th centuries,) the French word for Sunday was called “diessol” or “diexol,” a contraction of the Latin phrase “dies solis,” which means “Day of the sun” or “Sunday.” 

This shift from the original “Dies Solis” (Day of the Sun) to “Dies Dominicus ” (Day of the Lord) reflects the growing influence of Christianity in Western Europe and the incorporation of Christian religious practices and beliefs into daily life and language.

Most romance languages switched from “day of the sun” to “day of the lord,” while other languages retained the connection to the sun by keeping the name for this day of the week linked to a celestial body. Some examples of languages that still call this day “Sun Day” are German: “Sonntag,” Dutch: “zondag,” Finnish: “sunnuntai,” and English “Sunday.”

Latin name: Dies Dominicus

  • Based on the: Sun
  • Sol was an ancient Roman sun god.
  • Helios was the Greek god’s name.

Useful French Days of the Week questions, sentences, expressions and vocabulary

What gender are the 7 French days of the week?

All days of the week in French are masculine. 

Why aren’t the 7 days of the week in French capitalized?

Capitalization is much less common in French than in English.

You never capitalize the days of the week in French unless they start a sentence.

Months of the year and languages are also not capitalized in French, and you never capitalize nationalities in French when they are used as adjectives to modify a noun.

Monday to Friday

  • Lundi à Vendredi


  • Le weekend

Most French people in France say le weekend.

This surprised me when I first moved to France because, in French-speaking Quebec, we always use the French phrase “la fin de semaine,” which literally means “the end of the week.”

Week (Semaine)

  • One week = Une semaine
  • This week = Cette semaine
  • Next week = La semaine prochaine
  • Last week = La semaine dernière 
  • Every week = Chaque semaine, Hebdomadairement, Une fois par semaine
  • Per week = par semaine (how much does it cost per week ?/ Combien ça coûte par semaine?)

How to say “Today is (day)” in French.

  • Aujourd’hui c’est (day)
  • On est (day)
  • C’est (day)
  • Nous sommes (day) -this is more formal.

How to ask “What day is it?” in French.

  • On est quel jour?
  • Quel jour sommes-nous?

With “Le” or without “Le”

Adding the French article “le” before the day of the week in French changes its meaning from a single day to something you do regularly on a given day. 

For example:

Le mardi = every Tuesday

Both phrases below say the same thing: “Every Tuesday, I eat with my girlfriend.”

  • Le mardi, je mange avec ma copine). 
  • Tous les mardis, je mange avec ma copine.

mardi = Tuesday (one single Tuesday)

  • Mardi, je mange avec ma copine. (On Tuesday, I’m going to eat with my girlfriend.)

See you next week

  • à la semaine prochaine.

Memorizing the 7 days of the week in French

Now that you know that the origins for the names of the 7 days of the week in French stem from the Roman names of the planets, memorizing the days of the week in French becomes much easier 

Just remember Saturday and Sunday are the only two days of the week in French that are not named after celestial bodies, planets or deities. Saturday was changed from “Day of Saturn” to “Day of Sabbath” (Samedi). And Sunday was changed from “Day of the sun” to “Day of the lord” (Dimanche.)

A quick recap for remembering the 7 days of the week in French

  • lundi = moon day (from Latin luna)
  • mardi= Mars day (does mardi gras sound familiar to you?)
  • mercredi = Mercury day (from Latin mercurialis)
  • jeudi = Jupiter day (from latin Jovis also called jove, luppiter, lovis)
  • vendredi = Venus day 
  • samedi = sabbath day (from Latin sambatum)
  • dimanche = lords day (from Latin dominus) Dominicus dies

Je vous souhaite une très bonne semaine!
A très bientôt

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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