Leap second

A leap second is a positive or negative one-second
The second is a unit of measurement of time, and is the International System of Units base unit of time. It may be measured using a clock....

 adjustment to the Coordinated Universal Time
Coordinated Universal Time
Coordinated Universal Time is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is one of several closely related successors to Greenwich Mean Time. Computer servers, online services and other entities that rely on having a universally accepted time use UTC for that purpose...

 (UTC) time scale
Time scale
A time scale specifies divisions of time.*Time standard, a specification of either the rate at which time passes, or points in time, or both*Duration , a quantity of time...

 that keeps it close to mean solar time. UTC, which is used as the basis for official time-of-day radio broadcasts for civil time
Civil time
In modern usage, civil time refers to statutory time scales designated by civilian authorities, or to local time indicated by clocks. Modern civil time is generally standard time in a time zone at a fixed offset from Coordinated Universal Time or from Greenwich Mean Time , possibly adjusted by...

, is maintained using extremely precise atomic clock
Atomic clock
An atomic clock is a clock that uses an electronic transition frequency in the microwave, optical, or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element...

s. To keep the UTC time scale close to mean solar time, UTC is occasionally corrected by an intercalary adjustment, or "leap", of one second.