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Why do Americans call Autumn "fall"?

Crouton

Ninja
V.I.P.
I asked this in the season thread but got a warning for going off topic before I got an answer. So I'm still curious to know. Is is the term 'fall' simply because Autumn is the season where lots of leaves fall off the tree's or is there another reason for it?
 

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
From Wikipedia...not the most legitimate source in the world but I'd trust it for something basic like this:

The word autumn comes from the Old French word autompne (automne in modern French), and was later normalised to the original Latin word autumnus.[8] There are rare examples of its use as early as the 12th century, but it became common by the 16th century.
Before the 16th century, harvest was the term usually used to refer to the season, as it is common in other West Germanic languages to this day (cf. Dutch herfst and German Herbst). However, as more people gradually moved from working the land to living in towns (especially those who could read and write, the only people whose use of language we now know), the word harvest lost its reference to the time of year and came to refer only to the actual activity of reaping, and autumn, as well as fall, began to replace it as a reference to the season.[9][10]
The alternative word fall for the season traces its origins to old Germanic languages. The exact derivation is unclear, the Old English fiæll or feallan and the Old Norse fall all being possible candidates. However, these words all have the meaning "to fall from a height" and are clearly derived either from a common root or from each other. The term came to denote the season in 16th century England, a contraction of Middle English expressions like "fall of the leaf" and "fall of the year".[11]
During the 17th century, English emigration to the British colonies in North America was at its peak, and the new settlers took the English language with them. While the term fall gradually became obsolete in Britain, it became the more common term in North America, where autumn is nonetheless preferred in scientific and often in literary contexts.
 

Crouton

Ninja
V.I.P.
Well what do you know, that's really interesting, thanks Unity.

So is it only used in North America then? I've never heard it used anywhere else, but sometimes other countries pick up terms like this too.
 

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
Well what do you know, that's really interesting, thanks Unity.

So is it only used in North America then? I've never heard it used anywhere else, but sometimes other countries pick up terms like this too.
If you're curious I'd advise PMing a member named Sim that's from Germany...I can't think of any others offhand; but people from that country or from the old Norse countries may use it still if it was derived from their language.
 

SlowburnDarkly

Registered Member
Interesting post, Unity. As for it being used in other countries, I can't vouch for that. I've been all over Europe (including Germany), some of South America, and parts of Asia, yet I've never heard it anywhere but in the US.
 

Millz

Better Call Saul
Staff member
V.I.P.
Always interested in seeing how words originate and why certain countries use certain terms. I personally say both fall and autumn but definitely do hear the term fall used more often then autumn.
 

Crouton

Ninja
V.I.P.
Hmm, it is interesting that the term originated from Germany but is now no longer used there. I would never have guessed that that's where it's roots where.
 

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
Always interested in seeing how words originate and why certain countries use certain terms. I personally say both fall and autumn but definitely do hear the term fall used more often then autumn.
I'm always interested in that, too. Where words come from, old traditions, and even how sayings got started.

Anyway, Wikipedia had it pretty close with it's description of the U.S. We use both; Fall is more casual, and Autumn is more proper. Fall is much more common.
 

ysabel

/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
I don't see any warning given to you but it does seem better to have this in a separate thread or we could have missed out on the history. :lol:

I have always thought that Fall was named as such because it is when leaves fall. Just like Spring is when the flowers spring to life. :dork: I use them interchangeably probably because I have lots of American friends/family. Places that were colonised by the Americans might be using Fall term too even if they don't have all 4 seasons in reality (or views of falling leaves at a particular season). In here we say Automne.
 

Crouton

Ninja
V.I.P.
I don't see any warning given to you but it does seem better to have this in a separate thread or we could have missed out on the history. :lol:

I have always thought that Fall was named as such because it is when leaves fall. Just like Spring is when the flowers spring to life.
Oh no it wasn't an official warning, just a post in the other thread.

Also, I've never thought of Spring like that, of a time when flowers 'spring' to life. That's really cute, I always just think of them as blooming, never 'springing'. I like it though, from now on that's what I'm going to think when I think of Spring.
 
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