What do you call the season of pumpkin spice, falling leaves, and sweater weather?
“It’s fall!”, says the average citizen. “Nay! It’s autumn”, says the English language nerd.
The name depends on who you ask. It revolves around September in both USA and UK. Some people call it the “Fall” season, and some prefer it as “Autumn.”
As you can guess, this is a long-standing debate with no definitive answer. So, is there any difference between Fall and Autumn?
If it’s a yes, then what is it? Why do we have two completely different names for the same season?
That’s what this article is all about. Let’s see what we can dig up from history.
A Hard to Define Season
The USA Today quoted Tony Thorne, a lexicographer at King’s College London, saying that the season Autumn or Fall has no single distinct feature, which is the cause behind its multiple names.
He’s right. Look at the other seasons, and you’ll see each one has one distinct property. Summer has the scorching heat, winter comes with freezing cold, Monsoon season causes floods.
But it’s quite a different scenario when the period is between two well-defined seasons, such as Summer and Winter. There is no single characteristic that you can define it with.
Autumn or Fall; Which Is More Correct?
According to Merriam-Webster, both are technically correct. But it has to do more with the people and what they prefer. So, now the season has the standard name Autumn in the UK, and for the US, it’s the Fall season.
How They Came to Be?
We’ve given a bit of info above as to how the names Autumn and Fall became associated with the season. We don’t know much about the Latin origin of Autumn. But it stayed as the dominant name up until the emergence of the USA, a British ex-colony. We know that both the names were born in Britain.
But Autumn was a much more popular choice compared to fall. It wasn’t even included in the dictionary.
In the 18th century, the English language experienced its first division. British English and American English were born. Trust me, this division has made English a more complicated language for non-natives. Autumn, being the older word, made its home among British people.
And not surprisingly, Fall was taken by the US. It was Samuel Johnson who first entered “Fall” in the dictionary in 1775. From there on, the American people adopted it. Some say it was a way of showing their own identity.
When Does Fall Start?
Let’s go into a bit of history before answering that. The name “Fall” wasn’t really used up until the 1600s. It was known as Autumn since the 1300s. In the 16th century, the poets started using the phrase “falling of leaves” when indicating this particular season.
As a result, the term “Fall” became associated with the season. And that was the moment the British empire grew outside the island, and thus the word “Fall” made its way into the British colonies.
One of those colonies, the USA, still uses the word to indicate the end of September, 22nd or 23rd September to be exact.
Thus, the season started becoming known as “Fall” from the falling of leaves.
- You get to wear cozier clothes, it’s sweater weather
- Dried leaves fall and bring new colors
- It’s the start of the holiday season!
- Sports season
- Outdoor BBQ parties are still relevant
- Not so fun for those vulnerable to cold
- The nice weather doesn’t last long
- Tough season to keep the yard clean!
What to Wear in Fall?
Fall is the season of clothing. My preference for Fall and Winter is mostly due to the opportunity to try out cool sweaters and jackets. These can take your elegance to the next level.
Choosing the appropriate wear is, however, more important. Here are a few tips for the upcoming season;
- If you live in a relatively warm place, avoid anything too thick. You can choose cardigans, light sweaters, and coats.
- Don’t forget to get a couple of long sleeve shirts
- I’d recommend a leather jacket if it’s something you like since it’ll last practically forever.
- In case you live in a place that’s cold and wet during this season, you should opt for jackets or long trench coats. You can also choose heavy sweaters, coats, and cardigans.
- Fur coats look especially good on women.
- One other option is a hoody. These have become famous among millennials. If it feels hot during midday, you can hang them around your waist.
- If you’re a fan of jeans, fall allows you to try out thicker denim jeans.
- I’d choose combat boots or lace-up boots for my feet. Trainers also work if you’re in a place with low chances of snow.
When Does Autumn Start?
The name Autumn made its way into the discussion in the 13th century. It has its roots in the Latin word “Autumnus,” which, however, has an unknown origin. The season was the season of harvest, and it was known as such. But since it popped up, it became Autumn.
This season starts in September. It’s been used to indicate the period between winter and summer. So, it has the best of both.
- The warmth of the sun with a cool breeze
- Brown dried leaves give their place to vibrant and colorful leaves
- The holiday seasons
- Outdoor activities
- Fashion season with cool wear
- Makes a mess of the yard if you have trees
- Winter is coming
- Colds and allergies arrive
What to Wear in Autumn?
The weather might be starting to liven up after the winter, but the cold doesn’t go away as easily. Especially, if you live in the colder regions. Here are a few clothing tips to maintain a fashion sense while protecting yourself against cold.
- First up are long sleeve shirts. These are vital if you need to do some layerings.
- How do you feel about turtlenecks? These go well with jackets and blazers.
- You can pair a cardigan with those shirts. Jackets work well too.
- If your weather is weird like UK’s wet and cold weather, you should be getting a classic long trench coat.
- And get a leather jacket while you’re at it.
- Ladies should get fur coats. These are comfy and maintain your elegance well.
- On the other hand, if you’re one for casual looks, get a hoodie. Or pair sweats with joggers for a more streetwear look.
- Are we forgetting the feet? Wear trainers or lace-up boots to keep your feet warm.
Autumn vs Fall: Key Differences
The difference between this two season is more about the naming rather than the characteristics of the season, as you’ve already seen above.
When the Leaves Fall
In the USA, the season is called “Fall” because the deciduous trees turn yellow and lose their leaves between September and early November.
But that doesn’t happen in UK’s Autumn. In Autumn, the leave starts to become yellow in mid-October and starts to fall in early December.
When They Got Their Name
The season came to be associated with Autumn in the 13th century, whereas it got the name Fall in the 16th century.
Apparently, the word autumn came from Autumnus, with ancient Etruscan root autu. So far, I haven’t found any semantic relation with the season.
On the other hand, naming the season “Fall” makes more sense semantically. Its origin is poetry during the 16th century.
Poets started using the phenomenon of falling leaves at the start of this season. And it shortened to “Fall.”
Inclusion in Dictionary
Autumn, being the older word, was in the dictionary from the start. Fall was included in the dictionary as a season in the late 1800s.
The earliest name for the Autumn season is Harvest since it’s the harvesting season. It was a practical name explaining the activities. And Fall replaced Autumn.
The discussion of fall vs. autumn is futile, as you can see from the article. There’s a bit of difference regarding the timing of the falling of leaves, but that’s about it. There are no practical differences to be seen other than regional preference.
Both are correct according to all dictionaries. So, you can use either in accordance with the style of writing. I’d say Autumn goes more with the language used in literature.