The outdoors type always look forward to cooler days when the trees start to change their color. Depending on where you in the county you live, you might call this season fall or autumn. But is there a difference?
The truth is, that autumn and fall have the same meaning. Both are right but they often have different connotations. Let’s discuss the distinction between the two, their histories, and the usage of the terms in various fields.
What’s the Difference Between Fall and Autumn?
People often use the terms fall and autumn interchangeably, but Americans use the word fall more. Both words refer to the season after summer and winter when people harvest food for winter storage.
The main difference between the terms fall and autumn is the type of English they characterize.
American English utilizes the popular term fall, while traditional British English uses autumn. Both languages diverge, giving fall and autumn the same meaning.
But before autumn and fall, there was harvest. It was known as harvest because it was the season when people gathered crops before it got cold, during a time when we were more self-sufficient. The term comes from a German word that means reap, pluck, or pick.
In the 1300s, autumn, which comes from the Latin word autumn, became more famous. Writers used autumn more extensively than harvest since the latter had more than one definition.
Harvest is not only a season or a time but also an actual activity. And city dwellers didn’t find the word relatable.
Later on, fall was born as people associated the season with the leaves changing colors and falling. Americans and Canadians started using the term more often, whereas British people kept the term autumn.
Comparison of Fall and Autumn
So, the difference between fall and autumn lies in the type of English language they originate.
However, the two words may invoke different ideas and feelings aside from their primary definition.
Autumn is fall’s older sibling. People used the popular term to respond to their confusion about the word harvest. A few centuries later, they started interchanging it with fall until only British people used it.
The word autumn comes from the Latin and French words autumn and automate.
This etymology means “the passing of the year.” Over time, the season name became unpopular as people thought it was too formal. However, meteorology considers autumn more proper.
The American English counterpart, fall, is more truthful, honest, relatable, and rustic. However, there is no exact reason why autumn is still more prevalent in the United Kingdom.
The arrival of autumn is called the autumnal equinox, which occurs from the 21st to the 24th of September. Then, it ends on the 20th to the 23rd of December or the winter solstice.
The use of fall by British authors and poets is usually associated with American things, television seasons, the season of pumpkin spice, and more. Fall became more well-known 300 years after autumn started losing its popularity.
The name comes from the German word fallen or fiæll, which means falling from a height. Initially, the word fall was short for “fall of the lead” or “fall of the year.” It only became one word in the 17th century, right before the American English development.
England and USA
Fall became popular in both England and the USA. However, its prominence only persisted in the USA. Canadians also use fall more than autumn, while Australians use both seasons’ names.
British English and meteorology consider fall informal, archaic, and sometimes even barbaric. It monopolizes pop culture, creative writing, and the soft sciences.
But fall is an official term for the intermediary season between summer and winter. It entered the dictionaries in 1755 before the American Revolution.
The fall season is described based on two different calendars, the astronomical and meteorological calendars.
The astronomical calendar employs two equinoxes and two solstices. Here, one can determine the period of fall by using the earth’s position based on the sun.
September 21st to 24th marks the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s when the sun has gone above the earth’s celestial equator in a southward manner.
In the Southern Hemisphere, this season is the first day of spring.
Meanwhile, December 20th to 23rd is the winter solstice. This period is the phase where there is a short amount of sunlight.
Many also link the astronomical calendar with Daylight Saving Time. The principle of moving the clocks forward in the summer and backward in the fall is due to the natural daylight. Moving the time back one hour in the autumn means more light in the fall and winter days.
Daylight Saving Time starts on March 13th, 2022, at 2 AM, and ends on November 6th, 2022, at 2 AM. Remember the quote, “Spring forward, fall back,” so as not to get confused about the concept.
The meteorological calendar divides the four seasons into three months based on the 12-month calendar and temperature cycle every year.
It’s easier to follow because it’s steadier than the astronomical seasons.
Autumn always lasts from the first day of September to the last day of November. These dates are stable regardless of the Earth’s position relative to the sun. Here are the other months for each season.
- Meteorological spring: March to May.
- Meteorological summer: June to August.
- Meteorological winter: December to February.
Meteorologists and climatologists prefer the meteorological calendar since monitoring the weather with a stable time frame is easier. They can also compare records from previous years.
Both autumn and fall are acceptable terms with different connotations. They are official words for that specific season between summer and winter.
Use autumn if:
- You are using British English
- You want to seem more formal in speech or writing.
And use the word fall if:
- You are using the American English language.
- You are referencing American trends or traditions during the season.
- You want to be poetic.
Autumn and fall have the same literal definitions in the dictionary. They are also acceptable terms in the field of Earth Science.
Which is your preferred term, autumn or fall? Let us know, throw your pick in the comments! We’ve got more great info like this on our site, like our list of the best eco-friendly products for the home.