It’s nearing the end of October already. Have you ever wondered why British English uses the word ‘autumn’ while American English uses ‘fall?’
Autumn or fall refers to the season between spring and winter in countries, continents, or regions that have four seasons. It usually begins on 22 or 23 September in the Northern Hemisphere (northern part of the equatorial line) and 20 or 21 March in the Southern Hemisphere. The season generally lasts for 3 months.
Autumn is indicated by the leaves that change colour to yellowish or brownish shade, the falling leaves, shorter days, birds migration to areas with warmer weather, the last harvest before winter and thus harvest festival, and damp weather.
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the older of the two words is ‘autumn’. It has been existing since 1300s. It probably came from the Latin word ‘autumnus.’
Over time, autumn was getting more commonly associated with the ‘fall’ of the leaves. By 1600, the word ‘fall’ started to gain popularity to call this particular season.
As years went by, the English spoken in Britain and the English spoken in America diverged. Even though ‘autumn’ and ‘fall’ both came from Britain, ‘fall’ is considered more American and continued to flourish in American English. In fact, it is regarded as carrying an ‘American identity’ to distinguish the continent from its former British occupant.
In both British and American English, the word ‘autumn’ and ‘fall’ can be used interchangeably, although ‘autumn’ is more popular in countries that use British English and ‘fall’ is more popular in countries that use American English.