Weekly Grammar Tips
Weekly Grammar Tips
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  • History Teacher

    Actually I like both fall and autumn. While autumn is a more beautiful word which brings to mind the deep reds and yellows and browns, fall is inelegant though evocative also since I see falling leaves and hear the crunch of them underfoot.

  • Tony Bishop

    This question has little relevance outside the USA, given that “fall” is used almost nowhere else in the world.

  • Annie Warburton

    It IS a relevant question, because of the dominance of American culture in the Anglosphere. I first heard the word ‘fall’ for ‘autumn’ as child through American TV shows and books. I’ve always loved it as an EXTRA word for Autumn. It has a lovely archaic poetic ring to it.

  • badeneunson

    it’s both: Sense of “autumn” (now only in U.S. but formerly common in England) is by 1660s, short for fall of the leaf (1540s). Meaning “cascade, waterfall” is from 1570s (often plural, falls, when the descent is in stages; fall of water is attested from mid-15c.). Wrestling sense is from 1550s. Of a city under siege, etc., 1580s. Fall guy is from 1906. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=fall Strangely, Online Oxford does not list-
    Wikipedia: The word autumn comes from the ancient Etruscan root autu- and has within it connotations of the passing of the year.[11] It was borrowed by the neighbouring Romans, and became the Latin word autumnus.[12] After the Roman era, the word continued to be used as the Old French word autompne (automne in modern French) or autumpne in Middle English,[13] and was later normalized to the original Latin. In the Medieval period, there are rare examples of its use as early as the 12th century, but by the 16th century, it was in common use.

    Boston, Massachusetts in autumn
    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, German Herbst and Scots hairst). However, as more people gradually moved from working the land to living in towns, 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.[14][15]

    The alternative word fall for the season traces its origins to old Germanic languages. The exact derivation is unclear, with 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”.[16]

    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.[citation needed]

    The name backend, a once common name for the season in Northern England, has today been largely replaced by the name autumn.[17]

    • Shannon McL

      Clearly, James Taylor prefers “fall”.

  • Picaress

    “Fall” in conversation usually; “Autumn” in writing, particularly poetic.

  • This question may make sense in America but to Australians it is a ridiculous question. We only know what ‘fall’ means because of American movies. i.e.only the word ‘autumn’ is used in Australia, and even then, only in the southern states where in August-September the leaves of deciduous trees change colour and fall preparing for winter. In the northern states (the tropics) of Australia there is no autumn. Instead, there’s the ‘wet season’ (very green and hot, 35-40 degrees celsius every day) and ‘dry season’ (very dry and cooler but still typically 30 degrees celsius every day).

  • KingstonJack

    Not an American. Never been an American. Never going to be an American.

  • Charlie B.

    We use both interchangeably here in North Western Missouri. Never know which one will come out of the mouth.

  • EN Heim

    I like Autumn, because it defines what it is. Fall does not, even though I use the term more to describe the season.

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