Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Autumn is here. In America, autumn (or fall) is usually regarded as occurring in September, October, and November. In Great Britain, figure August, September, and October, while in France, “from the end of August to the first fortnight of November” (Littré).

The word autumn came into English from Old French, which borrowed it from the Latin. Ernest Weekley (An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English) suggests that since it’s harvest time, the Latin name for the season may have come from augere, to increase, but that’s not universally accepted.

One of the earliest citations in the Oxford English Dictionary comes to us from Chaucer (Boethius De consolatione philosophiæ). He wrote, “Autumn comes again, heavy of apples.”

In time, autumn came to represent maturity, even incipient decay (the autumn of my years).

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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