’Tis the time of colorful foliage, crisp air, and pumpkin spice. It’s many people’s favorite season—and it’s the only one with more than one commonly used name. But what to call it—autumnorfall? And what came first?
Prepare for the dawn of sweater weather with some insights into the origins offallandautumn—and another, even older name for the season.
The namesautumnandfallare both commonly used.Autumnis thought to be slightly older, appearing in the 1300s, with the wordfallfirst appearing around the 1500s in reference to leaves falling off trees. An even earlier name for the season isharvest.
Where does the wordautumncome from?
The wordautumncomes from the Frenchautompne, from the Latinautumnus, whose deeper roots are obscure. It’s first recorded in English as early as the late 1300s—notably, both Chaucer and Shakespeare used it in their works.
Today, speakers of American English commonly use bothfallandautumnto refer to the season, thoughfallbecame more common in the US by the late 1800s. Speakers ofBritish Englishlargely useautumn.
Why is it calledfall?
Recorded use of the wordfallas the name of the third season of the year comes from as early as the 1500s. The name is thought to originate in the phrasethe fall of the leaf, in reference to the time of year whendeciduoustrees shed their leaves. The name of its inverse season,spring, is thought to come from the phrasespring of the leaf—the time when everything is blossoming.
The namefallwas commonly used in England until about the end of the 1600s, when it was ousted byautumn.
In the Northern Hemisphere, fall is roughly between August and November, technically lasting from theautumnal equinox(around the end of September) until thewinter solstice(around the end of December). In the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are flipped, fall is roughly between the end of March and the end of June.
Another (even older) name forfallandautumn
The earliest known name for the season in English isharvest. It comes from the Old English wordhærfest, of Germanic origin, perhaps with an underlying, ancient sense of “picking, plucking” (as in, picking fruits to harvest them).
Eventually, the use ofharvestas a name for the season fell out of use, instead becoming used for the period whenripenedcrops are harvested—gathered for processing and winter storage. The wordharvestcan also refer collectively to those ripened, gathered crops themselves.
Looking for more explanation?
学习词汇没有confusing-not with the help of aDictionary Academy Tutor™. Whether you need one-on-one or group study sessions, Dictionary Academy tutoring is custom-fit to meet your learning needs. Tutors aren’t just the people who help you conquer subjects you’re struggling with—they can also offer study tips, strategies, and advice from an educator’s perspective.