Ides of March – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did someone say ‘beware the Ides of March?’ What does that mean? Are they giving you a warning for something? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The expression 'Ides of March' refers to a specific lunar event occurring during March. It's a pagan festival originally celebrated by the Romans.

  • 'Kalends' (first day of March).
  • 'Nones' (the 7th day in March).
  • 'Ides' (the 15th day in March).

The 'Ides of March' refers to the first new moon in March, usually falling between the 13th and 15th of the month. The 'Ides of March' was a cause for celebration in Roman days.

However, there isn't much use for the term outside the financial markets. Traders and investors use the time to refer to the market's annual selloff, usually occurring in March during options expiry and earnings season.

Example Usage

“Tis ‘The Ides of March’ in a few days’ time. What will we do to celebrate this pagan tradition this year? Does anyone even know what it means anymore?”

“The Ides of March will eat your portfolio alive if you’re not prepared for the volatility. Make sure our broker has a good strategy to navigate the market.”

“I lost everything during the massive sell-off back in March. I remember a trader telling me ‘beware the Ides of March’ when I started, and I guess she was right.”

“I should have listened when people told me about the market volatility during March. Beware, the Ides of March. It turns out it’s a real thing after all.”

“Make sure you get out of the market and into cash before the end of February. There are options-expiry and profit taking for earnings and tax season around this time. Beware the Ides of March.”

“Are you ready for this month? We can expect massive volatility in price action across all asset classes. Usually, it’s to the downside, so be ready to short the right names. Beware the Ides of March, and use it to your advantage.”


The expression ‘the Ides of March is a shorter version of the full-length phrase ‘beware the Ides of March.’ It originates from the Roman days and pagan traditions surrounding lunar activity.

However, the saying became a part of the English lexicon thanks to Roman Emperor Julius Caesar. A coalition of Roman senators conspired to murder Caesar on March 15th, 44 BC. Roman poet, Publius Terentius Afer, recorded the events.

Playwright Nicholas Udall, and later headmaster at Eton College, would coin the phrase in 1533 in his textbook, ‘Floures for Latine Spekynge Selected and Gathered oute of Terence.’

The phrase appears in archaic English as follows.

“For Spurinna beinge a southsayer hadde warned Cesar before to beware of the Ides of Marche, for he shulde be slayne as that daye, and soo he was.”

Phrases Similar to Ides of March

  • Sell in May and go away.

Phrases Opposite to Ides of March

  • N/A.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • The Ideas of March.

Ways People May Say Ides of March Incorrectly

'The Ides of March' refers to a lunar event during the month of March. Using it to describe other calendar events or other traditions is incorrect. The Ides of March is associated with superstitious beliefs and has no scientific basis.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Ides of March

'The ides of March' isn't a popular term. The British public is more likely to understand its meaning than Americans. There isn't much use for it in social situations because it's somewhat of a long-forgotten superstition from roman days.

However, 'the Ides of March' is a very popular and well-known term in the investing and trading community. According to past market trends, March presents selloff risk across all markets, mainly due to profit-taking from quarterly earnings in the stock market. The added volatility during these periods results in big drawdowns, also known as 'bloodbaths,' that may adversely affect investor portfolio values.

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