What Is Semiannual?

Semiannual is an adjective that describes something that is paid, reported, published or otherwise takes place twice each year, typically once every six months.

For example, a ten-year general obligation bond issued by the Buckeye City, Ohio Consolidated School District in 2018 will pay interest on a semiannual basis each year until the bond's maturity date in 2028. Investors who buy these bonds will receive interest payments twice in each of those years—in this case once in June and once in December. The school district will also publish a semiannual report on its finances, once in February and once in November.

Key Takeaways

  • Semiannual is an adjective that describes something that is paid, reported, published or otherwise takes place twice each year.
  • Semiannual is often confused with the word biennial, which means something that happens every other year.

Understanding Semiannual

If a corporation pays a semiannual dividend, its shareholders will receive dividends twice yearly (a corporation can choose how many dividends to distribute each year—if any). Financial statements or reports are frequently published on a quarterly (four times per year) or semiannual basis.

Dividend-paying companies often distribute dividends on a semiannual basis (twice per year).

Examples of Semiannual Payments

Dividends are another example of payments made on a semiannual basis. Corporations may choose how many dividends they distribute to their shareholders each year, or they may pay no dividends at all. If Acme corporation’s management decides to pay a semiannual dividend, Acme's shareholders will receive dividend payments twice each year, perhaps one in June and another in December. Acme Corporation may also publish its financial statements or reports on a semiannual basis.

Semiannual vs. Biennial

While semiannual is an adjective that describes something that happens twice in a single year, biennial is a word that describes something that happens every other year. Understandably, biennial is often confused with the word biannual, which means the same thing as semiannual—something that happens twice per year.