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Autumn versus fall

Autumn versus fall

Fall is an alternative English word for the season of autumn. In use now only in North American English, the word traces its origins to old Germanic languages. The exact derivation is unclear, the Old English fiŽll or feallan and the Old Norse fall all being possible candidates. However, these words all have the meaning "to fall from a height" and are clearly derived either from a common root or from each other. The term only came to denote the season in the 16th century, a contraction of Middle English expressions like "fall of the leaf" and "fall of the year".
Autumn comes from the Old French autompne, and ultimately from the Latin autumnus. There are rare examples of its use as early as the 14th century, but it became common only in the 16th, around the same time as fall, when the two words appear to have been used interchangebly.
During the 17th century immigration to the English colonies in North America was at its peak and the new settlers took their language with them. While the term fall gradually obsolesced in Britain, it became the preferred term in North America, at least in conversation.
Before the 16th century Harvest was the term usually used to refer to the season. However as more people gradually moved from working the land to living in towns (especially those who could read and write, the only people whose use of language we now know), the word became to refer to the actual activity of reaping, rather than the time of year, and fall and autumn began to replace it.

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