AskDefine | Define autumn

Dictionary Definition

autumn n : the season when the leaves fall from the trees; "in the fall of 1973" [syn: fall]

User Contributed Dictionary


see Autumn


  • a UK: /ˈɔː.təm/, /"O:.t@m/
  • a US: , /ˈɑ.təm/, /"A.t@m/


From autumpne (modern: automne), from autumnus


  1. Traditionally the third of the four seasons, when deciduous trees lose their leaves; typically regarded as being from September 21 to December 20 in the northern hemisphere and from March 21 to June 20 in the southern hemisphere.




  1. Of or relating to autumn.
    autumn leaves

Derived terms

See Derived terms for the noun


of or relating to autumn
  • Finnish: syksyinen, syksy (genitive of the noun)

See also

Extensive Definition

Autumn (also known as fall in North American English) is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer usually in September (northern hemisphere) or March (southern hemisphere) when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier. Autumn starts on 22nd September and ends on 20th December, in the northern hemisphere. Autumn starts on or around 7 August and ends on about 6 November in solar term.
In Ireland, autumn begins on 1 August and ends 31 October, due to the Irish calendar.


The word autumn comes from the Old French word autompne (automne in modern French), and was later normalized to the original Latin word autumnus. There are rare examples of its use as early as the 14th century, but it became common by the 16th century, around the same time as fall, and the two words appear to have been used interchangeably.
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 harvest lost its reference to the time of year and came to refer only to the actual activity of reaping, and fall and autumn began to replace it as a reference to the season.
The alternative word fall is now mostly a North American English word for the season. It traces its origins to old Germanic languages. The exact derivation is unclear, the Old English fiæll 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 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".
During the 17th century, English immigration to the colonies in North America was at its peak, and the new settlers took their language with them. While the term fall gradually became obsolescent in Britain, it became the more common term in North America, where autumn is nonetheless preferred in scientific and often in literary contexts.

Historic usage

Many ancient civilizations (such as the Amerindians and the ancient Hebrews) computed the years by autumns, while the Anglo-Saxons did so by winters. Tacitus states that the ancient Germans were acquainted with all the other seasons of the year but had no notion of autumn — though this is likely to be wrong, especially as a blanket statement (Tacitus wrote about Germanic tribes without firsthand knowledge and thus promoted myths as well as actual information). Linwood observed of the beginning of the several seasons of the year, that:
"Dat Clemens Hyemem, dat Petrus Ver Cathedratus;
Aestuat Urbanus, Autumnat Bartholomaeus."
In alchemy, autumn is the time or season when the operation of the Philosopher's stone is brought to maturity and perfection. Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet, has expressed such sentiments in one of his most famous poems, Herbsttag (Autumn Day), which reads in part:
Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.
This translates roughly (there is no official translation) to:
Who now has no house, will not build one (anymore).
Who now is alone, will remain so for long,
will wake, and read, and write long letters
and back and forth on the boulevards
will restlessly wander, while the leaves blow.
Similar examples may be found in William Butler Yeats' poem The Wild Swans at Coole where the maturing season that the poet observes symbolically represents his own aging self. Like the natural world that he observes he too has reached his prime and now must look forward to the inevitability of old age and death. Paul Verlaine's "Chanson d'automne" ("Autumn Song") is likewise characterized by strong, painful feelings of sorrow.

Other associations

In the U.S., autumn is also associated with the Halloween season (which in turn was influenced by Samhain, a Celtic autumn festival), and with it a widespread marketing campaign that promotes it. The television, film, book, costume, home decoration, and confectionery industries use this time of year to promote products closely associated with such holiday, with promotions going from early September to 31 October, since their themes rapidly lose strength once the holiday ends, and advertising starts concentrating on Christmas.
Since 1997, Autumn has been one of the top 100 names for girls in the United States.


Although colour change in leaves occurs wherever deciduous trees are found, coloured autumn foliage is most famously noted in two regions of the world: most of Canada and the United States; and Eastern Asia, including China, Korea, and Japan. It can also be very significant in Argentina, Australia, Chile and New Zealand, but not to the same degree. Eastern Canada and the New England region of the United States are famous for the brilliance of their fall foliage, and a seasonal tourist industry has grown up around the few weeks in autumn when the leaves are at their peak.



External links

autumn in Arabic: خريف
autumn in Aragonese: Agüerro
autumn in Asturian: Seronda
autumn in Bavarian: Hiachst
autumn in Bosnian: Jesen
autumn in Bulgarian: Есен (сезон)
autumn in Catalan: Tardor
autumn in Czech: Podzim
autumn in Welsh: Hydref (tymor)
autumn in Danish: Efterår
autumn in German: Herbst
autumn in Estonian: Sügis
autumn in Modern Greek (1453-): Φθινόπωρο
autumn in Erzya: Сёксь
autumn in Spanish: Otoño
autumn in Esperanto: Aŭtuno
autumn in Basque: Udazken
autumn in Persian: پاییز
autumn in French: Automne
autumn in Friulian: Sierade
autumn in Galician: Outono
autumn in Classical Chinese: 秋
autumn in Korean: 가을
autumn in Hindi: वर्षा ऋतु
autumn in Croatian: Jesen
autumn in Indonesian: Musim gugur
autumn in Icelandic: Haust
autumn in Italian: Autunno
autumn in Hebrew: סתיו
autumn in Georgian: შემოდგომა
autumn in Haitian: Lotòn
autumn in Kurdish: Payiz
autumn in Latin: Autumnus
autumn in Lithuanian: Ruduo
autumn in Hungarian: Ősz
autumn in Macedonian: Есен
autumn in Dutch: Herfst
autumn in Dutch Low Saxon: Haarfst
autumn in Japanese: 秋
autumn in Norwegian: Høst
autumn in Norwegian Nynorsk: Haust
autumn in Narom: Arryire
autumn in Uzbek: Kuz
autumn in Polish: Jesień
autumn in Portuguese: Outono
autumn in Romanian: Toamnă
autumn in Russian: Осень
autumn in Scots: Hairst
autumn in Southern Sotho: Lehwetla
autumn in Simple English: Autumn
autumn in Slovenian: Jesen
autumn in Serbian: Јесен
autumn in Serbo-Croatian: Jesen
autumn in Finnish: Syksy
autumn in Swedish: Höst
autumn in Tatar: Köz
autumn in Thai: ฤดูใบไม้ร่วง
autumn in Vietnamese: Mùa thu
autumn in Tajik: Тирамоҳ
autumn in Turkish: Sonbahar
autumn in Ukrainian: Осінь
autumn in Venetian: Autuno
autumn in Võro: Süküs
autumn in Walloon: Waeyén-tins
autumn in Yiddish: הארבסט
autumn in Contenese: 秋天
autumn in Dimli: Payız
autumn in Samogitian: Rudou
autumn in Chinese: 秋季
autumn in Slovak: Jeseň

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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