What's in a name? Many have debated what the proper nomenclature is for the third season of the year, and we won't stop you.

However, we will give you a snapshot into the history of the two words.

Where does the word autumn come from?

The Latin autumnus, whose deeper roots are unknown, gave way to the French word autompne which is where the word autumn is derived from. It was originally used in English in the late 1300's; Shakespeare and Chaucer both used it in their writings.

Although fall started to become more popular in the US by the late 1800's, American English speakers still frequently use both fall and autumn to describe the season today. Most British English speakers refer to the season as autumn.

Why is it called fall?

The term "fall" has been used to refer to the third season of the year since the 1500's. The term "the fall of the leaf," which refers to the time of year when deciduous trees lose their leaves, is assumed to be the source of the name. It is believed that the term "spring of the leaf"—the period when everything is in bloom—is where the name of its inverse season, spring, originated.

Fall was a well-known term in England up until the latter part of the 1600's, when autumn replaced it.


Another (even older) name for fall and autumn season

Harvest is the first recorded name for the season in English. Its Germanic ancestry stems from the Old English term hærfest, which may have had an underlying, prehistoric connotation of "picking, plucking" (as in, selecting fruits for harvesting).

Harvest was once used to describe the entire season, but it eventually lost favor and is now only used to describe the time when matured crops are harvested and gathered for processing and winter storage. The matured, harvested crops themselves can also be referred to collectively as the harvest.

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