(WYTV) – We call it fall but centuries ago, the season that comes after summer and before winter had a different name — harvest.
“Harvest” is an old English word with a German root. It meant picking or plucking.
The use of the word “harvest” for the season eventually fell out of use.
During the 1600s, English cities began to grow. Fewer people lived on farms and the word “autumn” began to take the place of “harvest.”
Why “autumn”? It came from the Latin word “autumnus,” meaning the passing of the year.
The English began to use the term “fall” as well, inspired by the falling leaves.
Both words became popular and the English brought both names for the season to the New World.
As time went on, the English spoken in America and the English spoken in Britain diverged. Then we won our independence and the type of English we speak became part of our early national identity.
A handful of words got caught in this identity change and “fall” was one of them. We made it our word.
We began to see “autumn” as more British and tended to use “fall” more and more. By the middle of the 19th century, “fall” was flourishing.
Today, British English speakers use both “fall” and “autumn,” but “autumn” is used more frequently. Some Englishmen consider “fall” a crude, almost barbaric Americanism.
When we set our clocks, it’s easier to say than “spring forward, autumn back.”