Saturday, September 6, 2008

Does Autumn Fall?

Hubby and I have an ongoing disagreement about the correct term for this time of year in the northern hemisphere. He contends that autumn designates that part of fall during which trees shed their leaves. I contend that that makes no sense, and that the terms are synonymous.

Naturally, these discussion made me research the question. Even more naturally, I wanted to share what I found with you folks. While I don't intend to rub his nose in it, I had the right idea.

I uncovered the most interesting explanation of the etymology and usage of fall and autumn at The Weather Notebook. You can read the transcript or listen to it, if you've got a Real Audio player. In essence, both terms were used in Great Britain during the 1500s but fall became less and less favored there and has evolved into a mostly North American word for the season.

Most etymological references listed autumn as originating from the Old French word autompne, which has since dropped the complicating p. lists the common information, which appears to be eerily similar (read: nearly identical) to the Wikipedia article. Which came first hardly matters, as the shorter references that I read agree with both.