Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ahhh! Isn't This a Lovely Not-Yet-Winter Day!

A friend said to me, in a conversation about the lovely weather we’re having today, that Fall and Autumn were not the same thing, exactly.  

This is the sort of remark that will cause my head to tilt in the manner of a dog’s as it listens to the squealing sound of air being allowed to escape from a narrow stricture in the neck of a balloon. 

It also sends me scrabbling through dictionaries and the Internet.  

“Enquiring minds” and all that rot.

(Though I’m not as bad as some people.  I have another friend who rolls his eyes and becomes restive – like a horse in a thunderstorm – if you are so ill-advised as to refer to one of those knit caps that skateboarders and sailors wear as a beanie.)  

Anyroad, here's some stuff that will clear all that up.  (Not.)

The pictures are of Maple Alley In Złoty Potok, Poland.  Photos by Przemysław Kruk  Found on Bored Panda

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n autumn the season when the leaves fall from the trees "in the fall of 1973"

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

    • Autumn The harvest or fruits of autumn.
    • Autumn The third season of the year, or the season between summer and winter, often called “the fall.” Astronomically, it begins in the northern temperate zone at the autumnal equinox, about September 23, and ends at the winter solstice, about December 23; but in popular language, autumn, in America, comprises September, October, and November.
    • Autumn The time of maturity or decline; latter portion; third stage. "Dr. Preston was now entering into the autumn of the duke's favor.""Life's autumn past, I stand on winter's verge."

Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

    • n autumn The third season of the year, or the season between summer and winter: often called fall, as being the time of the falling of the leaves. Astronomically it begins at the autumnal equinox, about the 22d of September, when the sun enters Libra, and ends at the winter solstice, about the 21st of December, when the sun enters Capricorn. In popular language autumn is regarded in North America as comprising September, October, and November, but in Great Britain, August, September, and October.
    • n autumn Figuratively.
    • n autumn A period of maturity, or of incipient decay, abatement, or decline: as, the autumn of life.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary     

    • n Autumn aw′tum the third season of the year when fruits are gathered in, popularly comprising the months of August, September, and October—in North America, September, October, and November. Astronomically, in the northern hemisphere, it begins at the autumnal equinox, when the sun enters Libra, 22d September, and ends at the winter solstice, when the sun enters Capricorn, 21st December 


WordNet 3.6

44.  n fall the season when the leaves fall from the trees "in the fall of 1973"

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

16.  Fall The season when leaves fall from trees; autumn. "What crowds of patients the town doctor kills,
Or how, last fall , he raised the weekly bills."

Quora  says: They're more-or-less synonymous.  (Though, of course, fall has many uses other than as the name of a season.)

Apparently the use of "fall" to refer to the season is primarily found in the United States, though. Blog remarks:

*The article somewhat inexplicably suggests that we don't know where autumn came from—but it obviously either came straight from Latin or from Old French (cf. Mod.Fr. automne) and then Latinized in spelling.

The Grammarist says: Autumn vs. fall

Fall and autumn are both accepted and widely used terms for the season that comes between summer and winter. Some who consider British English the only true English regard fall as an American barbarism, but this attitude is not well founded. Fall is in fact an old term for the season, originating in English in the 16th century or earlier. It was originally short for fall of the year or fall of the leaf, but it commonly took the one-word form by the 17th century, long before the development of American English. So while the term is now widely used in the U.S., it is not exclusively American, nor is it American in origin.

Autumn came to English from the French automne in the 15th or 16th century, but it didn’t gain prominence until the 18th century. After that, while fall became the preferred term in the U.S., autumn became so prevalent in British English that fall as a term for the season was eventually considered archaic. This has changed, however, as fall has been gaining ground in British publications for some time.

Canadians are just as likely as Americans to use fall. And although we found quite a few instances of fall in Australian publications, Australian writers seem to favor autumn by a significant margin.

What is the Difference Between Fall and Autumn? 

Trick question. There is no difference, but here's how the dual terminology came to be. The season that describes the transition from summer to winter was known as harvest for many years before autumn came into being. The usage horse race between harvest and autumn started in the 14th century with autumn’s first publication, and harvest and autumn would duke it out for centuries. Then along came fall in the 17th century, almost certainly a yin to the yang of the word spring, which had at that time just recently established its lexical dominance in describing the transition of winter to summer.

Beginning in the 17th century then, a three-way war for prominence between harvest, fall and autumn began and by the 18th century, the urban class’s resentment of the agrarian term harvest (and other factors) contributed to its declining usage. So began the rise of fall and autumn, whose Hatfield/McCoy feud rages on to this day. By the numbers, fall is preferred about two to one. So what is the real difference now? Autumn is a little snootier. I prefer autumn.

1 comment:

Molly Kate said...

I love those autumn (fall!!) illustrations. And what an interesting history... I had no idea. QUITE amusing ;0)