Difference Between Autumn and Fall

Main Difference

The main difference between the interchangeable terms autumn and fall is that the autumn is seen more in British English and fall is seen more in American English.

Autumn vs. Fall

Autumn and fall are interchangeable words in most contexts. Autumn and fall are both accepted words and widely used terms for the season that comes between summer and winter. Autumn and fall both refer to the season that follows summer. Sometimes, the other word autumn is preferred or sometimes the word fall however today, both these words are accepted in the context of the seasons. Autumn is a noun. It directs a season that occurs between summer and winter. Fall is an old term for the same season. But the word autumn is used in more formal contexts; hence, it is more formal than fall. Autumn is used as a feminine name. It functions as a proper noun and is always be capitalized. It is an old word originating in Latin and carried through to modern use through Middle English. The word autumn was first recorded in its current form in the 14th century. The word fall originates in English in the 16th century or earlier. The word autumn came to the English language from the French “Automne” in the 15th or 16th century, but it did not gain prominence by the end of the 18th century. ‘Fall’ became the preferred term in the U.S. ‘Autumn’ became a prevalent term in British English. After the prominence and excessive use of the word, “autumn” fall was eventually considered archaic for the season. But language is a thing that is always changing. This state did not remain constant as there too was a time when the term fall gained the ground among the British for some time.

Comparison Chart

AutumnFall
A formal name for the falling season that follows summerAn informal name for the falling season that follows summer
Context
FormalInformal
Origin
14th century16th century
Use
British EnglishAmerican English
Other Users
AustraliansCanadian

What is Autumn?

Autumn refers to the season in which the leaves of the trees fell. Autumn follows the summer season. The word autumn came to English from the French ‘Automne’ in the 15th or 16th century. But it did not gain any popularity and prominence until the 18th century. Autumn is a noun. The word autumn is used in more formal contexts; hence, it is a formal word. Autumn is used as a feminine name. It functions as a proper noun, and therefore, it is always be capitalized. It is an old word originating in Latin and carried through to modern use through Middle English. The word autumn was first recorded in its current form in the 14th century. Autumn word came into common usage about the same time as Fall did. The English who stayed home adopted the word Autumn. In U.S. English “Autumn” sounds archaic and poetic. Also, the Australian writers favor autumn by a significant margin. American writers use both fall and autumn, mostly depending on which sounds better. There is a little preference for autumn in British English. Autumn is the more formal word for the falling season.

Examples

  • John goes into the woods every autumn and draws maple syrup from the old trees.
  • In the Northern Hemisphere, autumn is a season of falling temperatures and brightly colored leaves.
  • In the autumn, the goats spend most of their time grazing the treetops, when there is little food on the ground.

What is Fall?

The word “fall” came from the Old English word “feallan,” which means “to die or to fall.” This phrase was shortened eventually to fall. The names for the season did not just end with autumn. Poets introduced the phrase “the fall of the leaves” that came to be associated with the season. This phrase was shortened in the 1600s to fall. Today, American English uses the word “fall.” However, this term fall or this season is an informal one. Moreover, Fall is a very old word. It has been used to describe the autumn season for several centuries. It was derived from a verb, and now it is considered as a noun to name a season. Fall also has several other meanings. Many of them mean to slip or to drop. It is very rare for British speaker to use the word fall instead of the word autumn. The people in the UK largely use the word fall.

Examples

  • This fall, John will be in 11th grade.
  • Ellie started a new job last fall as a manager of a construction company.
  • I am off to London for some business purpose and will stay there till the next fall.

Key Differences

  1. Autumn came to the English language from the French “Automne” in the 15th or 16th century whereas the word “fall” originates in English in the 16th century or earlier from the Old English word “feallan” which means “to fall or to die.”
  2. Autumn is seen more in British English on the flip side fall is seen more in American English.
  3. The word autumn is used in more formal contexts. Conversely, the word fall has an informal context.
  4. Australian writers seem to favor the word autumn; on the other hand, Canadian writers seem to favor the word fall.

Conclusion

In the context of seasons, the names autumn and fall are more or less interchangeable. Both words are accepted and used in different communities.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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