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English Vocab for the Fall Season Posted by on Sep 24, 2020 in Culture, English Language, English Vocabulary

Image by Couleur from Pixabay, CCO

Are you a leaf-peeper? Do you enjoy sweater weather? Longing for a crisp feel to the air? If you answered “Yes” to all three questions then you’re in luck. It’s autumn!

To be honest, I’m really a summer kind of guy. Give me lots of daylight, green grass, and the lazy pace of an afternoon baseball game any day. But there is a lot to love about early fall when the garden produces a bountiful harvest, the ground is leaf-strewn, and your wardrobe shifts from light cotton to flannel and corduroy. Even in 2020 America, we are again playing football, raking the leaves, and baking apple crisp.

Autumn or Fall?

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, fall began with the Autumnal Equinox on September 22. The Autumnal Equinox occurs when the sun crosses the equator, and the amount of daylight is less than the amount of nighttime. Equinox derives from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox, or night. Don’t worry – the sun crosses back to the Southern Hemisphere again on December 21st.

Incidentally, fall and autumn are interchangeable words for the season. Autumn is the older of the two words, entering English in the fourteenth century from the Latin word autumnus. It seems to have originally been spelled auctumnus, perhaps influenced by auctus, meaning increase. Thus, the increase of night over day. However, because the season is so associated with the fall of leaves, when the English settlers in the New World spoke of it, they typically called the season fall. This is why Americans are more likely to call the season fall than their British counterparts.

New England Foliage

Foliage is an English word for all plant leaves and vegetation. During this season, the leaves of the sugar maple, oak, birch, and elm trees change from their summer green to various shades of red, yellow, amber, gold, and brown. People come from many parts of the country to see the vivid fall foliage colors in New England. As I look out into my back garden, I see all these colors in full display, and probably will for the next few weeks.

These foliage hunters are called leaf-peepers by my fellow New Englanders. Don’t expect the traffic to move quickly on places like New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway or along the Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts. Drivers slowly work their way along these byways and foothills, often stopping to take pictures of the stunning natural beauty surrounding them.

My favorite drive takes me to Stowe, Vermont. I drive north from this delightful town up Rt. 108 to Smugglers’ Notch State Park. Smugglers’ Notch is a narrow pass through the Green Mountains of Vermont. The drive is slow at any time of the year, but when the fall foliage is at its peak you will not be able to keep your eyes on the road due to the breathtaking views around every corner.

More Vocabulary for Fall

  • Beaver’s Moon – The first full moon of November is called the Beaver’s Moon because this is the time that beavers will be hibernating for the long winter ahead.
  • Indian Summer – This is the period of mild weather which often occurs a few weeks after the first frost of the year.
  • Nippy – Like Crisp, Chilly, and Brisk, these adjectives describe the colder air of the season. A common expression is, “There’s a nip in the air.”
  • Rustling – The sound made by leaves in the wind.

Warm up that cider and get out the wool blankets – It’s time to stay warm and get cozy!


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About the Author: Gary Locke

Gary is a semi-professional hyphenate.