Sunday, September 18, 2016

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.