You may have heard the British use the word “autumn” to describe the time of year that ends summer and turns to winter or in simpler terms, the third season.
But why do they use a different word?
Both “fall” and “autumn” were used as part of the English language to describe the third season of the year.
But the older of the two is “autumn.”
When was the first appearance of the word autumn?
It was first used in English writing in the 14th Century and it comes from the Latin word “autumnus,” although it is still a mystery where the word “autumnus” stems from.
Over time autumn became a popular word to use, as prior to this it was referred to as “harvest.”
This was quite often disputed over because the window to harvest varied depending on crops and location.
This is because English speakers considered the year to have only two seasons, summer and winter.
Focusing mainly on the coldest and warmest parts of the year, therefore there was no need for a word to describe “harvest.”
By introducing the word “autumn,” it became a word to describe the transition between summer and winter in a clearer, less disputed way.
Where did the word “fall” come from?
Over time, poets became interested in describing parts of the year in romantic ways, and this is when “fall” appeared for the first time to replace the use of the word autumn.
During the 16th Century, writers continued to be amazed with the time of year and came up with the term “fall of the leaf”.
This was used in conjunction with “spring of the leaf” to describe these transitional times of the year.
Eventually the terms were shortened to “spring” and “fall.”
Shortly after this time, England’s empire was expanding fast, and in turn, that meant the English language was becoming widespread.
One area of the world in particular that it heavily influenced was North America.
As time went on the English that was spoken in America and the English that was spoken in England began to grow apart and develop upon its own accord.
There was less contact between the two areas and this influenced the language being spoken in the two different continents.
So the reason why Americans use fall and British use autumn, is because around the same time the English went over to North America, the most popular word to describe the third season had changed from autumn to fall.
It was in this time that the English language was taken over to North America, and as the two continents became more independent and there was less contact, fall was still used in North America, whilst Britain reverted back to using the word autumn.