Weather Blog

Autumn? Summer? How the seasons got their names

Autumn? Summer? How the seasons got their names

Digging through some of our archives to find a new topic for the weather blog, I stumbled upon this question that a 5-year-old from Lakeside Montessori school asked: "How did the seasons get their names?"

"Winter", according ot the Marriam-Webster dictionary comes to us from the Old English word "wintar" and perhaps Lithuanian 'vanduo' -- meaning water, and likely coming from the stormy, snowy time of the year.

"Spring" simply appears to have its origins as a time when plants "spring up" and old English "springan" which is "to leap and burst forth."

"Summer" comes from the Old English word "Sumor" which meant the "hot season of the year."

The origin of "Autumn" is more difficult. It came from the Latin word "Autumnus." The Elizabethans then casually used "fall" around the 16th Century to denote it as the time when the leaves fall.

Both terms were brought to America when the English colonized it, but fall seems to be more popular here while "autumn" is still the word of choice in England.

Looking at that list, it's a good thing the Old English didn't live in Seattle, lest the seasons be named: Rain, Overcast, Construction Cone and Flood.

(Thank you, young 5-year-old, for the question and saving the blog today, although you're probably nearing high school by now...)