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Where did the seasons get their names?
Which name do you think suits the season the best?
Winter is well and truly upon us! The recent cold streak in Rome has taken everybody by surprise. While I was thinking about the sudden change in temperature, I also started to think about the change in seasons and how they got their name in English.
The word Winter was first used in Old English and has remained unchanged since then. However, it comes from a Germanic word wentruz with the same meaning. Before this, it may have come from the old European word wed (wet) or wind (white). Considering that winter is both wet and white, this makes sense!
Unlike Winter and Spring, the word for Summer doesn’t have anything to do with the temperature or the image of the season. Summer simply comes from the Old English name sumor, which came from the Germanic sumur, which in turn came from the Old European sam. The meaning of this word was ‘together/one’.
This season was originally called ‘Harvest’, because it was the time of year when all the crops grown throughout the year were harvested, or picked. The name Autumn became common in the 16th century, though the reason for the name change is unclear. ‘Autumn’ came to English via Old French autompne and Latin autumnus. It is thought that it is related to another Latin word augere, which means ‘to increase’.
In Old English, Spring was first called Lent. However, around the 14th century people began to refer to the season as springing time, because the plants would literally spring from the ground. Over time this was shortened to spring time, and eventually just to Spring.
Images by Lucija Frljak (Four Seasons - Summer, Winter, Spring and Atumn)
I'm Rebecca, and Australian living in Rome. I love art, history, food, and creative writing! I am blogging for Creative English in the hope to combine all these passions and share them with you all. Happy reading!
Creative English Teacher