P

Winter. who named it that?

7 Answers
Why is winter called winter? Or spring called spring? Or summer called summer? Or fall called fall?
S

They have the same seasons as we do, however, they happen at different times of the year. Right now NZ and Oz are in the middle of their summers. Yes, they have Christmas every summer.

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R

"Spring" is an old word, and appears in many Germanic languages with a meaning like "to jump" or "to run". About two thousand (2000) years ago, the basic Germanic form was "spreng-" and by about one thousand (1000) years ago, when Old English was spoken, the word had changed to "spryng" or "spring" and has not changed significantly since then! However, the word "spring" was only began to be used to name the season following Winter in the 1500s (about five hundred (500) years ago). People had been using expressions like "spring of the leaf" and "spring time of the year" to describe the new growth of this season, and it seems likely that the season name "Spring" was formed from such expressions.


"Summer", people have needed a word for summer for a very long time. In fact, of all the words for seasons used by the people who spoke Indo-European about six thousand (6000) years ago, only one of them is still used in English: summer. The Indo-Europeans used a basic word that started "sem-". By about two thousand (2000) years ago, people speaking Germanic had taken this basic start and turned it into "sumaraz". People who spoke Old English about one thousand (1000) years ago said "sumor". People who spoke Middle English about six hundred (600) years ago used a word like "sumer" or "sommer", which has become our word "summer".


"Autumn/Fall" The word "Autumn" is a little more mysterious. It comes ultimately from Latin "autumnus", which itself is of uncertain origin. In Middle English, spoken about five hundred (500) years ago, it was spelled "autompne" having been borrowed from Old French "autompne" (found in modern French as "automne". Middle English "autompne" was sometimes used as early as the 1300s, but only became common during the 1500s. Why do you think this season might be called "Fall". What happens in the natural world during this season? The leaves on many trees die and fall to the ground. About five hundred (500) years ago, when Middle English was spoken, expressions like "fall of the leaf" and "fall of the year" were quite common, and the season name "Fall" comes from them. It is interesting to note that although Old English, spoken about one thousand (1000) years ago, had a word "fiæll" (or "fyll")--meaning "fall" as in "a falling from a height"--this word not only did not mean "the season following Summer", but did not even change into our modern English word "fall"! Instead our word comes from the Old Norse word "fall" which, like Old English "fyll", also meant "a falling from a height". However, during the period after the Scandinavians (who spoke Old Norse) settled in England (between 800 and 1100 CE) their word "fall" was borrowed into English and replaced the Old English word "fyll". There are many other Old Norse which were borrowed into English at this time. But the word "fall" only came to refer to the season "Fall" in the 1500s. Before the 1500s, this season was often called "Harvest". In fact, the name "Harvest" was used for this season quite commonly up until the end of the 1700s, after which the word "harvest" began to apply more specifically of the gathering of crops. Before the 1700s, most English-speaking people had occupations which had to do with farming, and "Harvest" was quite an appropriate name for this season when the crops were gathered in. However, after the Industrial Revolution beginning in the 1700s, fewer people were working on and around farms--in our times, most English-speaking people do not work in farming. So it is easy to see why the word "harvest" became less popular as a season name. "Harvest" comes from a Germanic word something like "harbistoz" or "harbustoz", used about two thousand (2000) years ago--this may have come from an older Indo-European root "harb-", used in words perhaps four thousand (4000) years ago, and meaning something to do with crops or fruit, or with plucking. By around one thousand (1000) years ago, the Germanic word "harbistoz" had turned into the Old English word "hærfest". By the time people spoke Middle English, about five hundred (500) years ago, people were already using our word "harvest".

"Winter" Our word "winter" is related to our words "wet", "water", and "wash". All these words come from an Indo-European basic form "wed-". People speaking Germanic, about two thousand (2000) years ago, used a word "wentruz" to mean "winter" (or "wet season"--for comparison, the Germanic word for "water" was "watar"). By about one thousand (1000) years ago, people speaking Old English had changed this word to "winter"--just like the modern word! Although it was sometimes spelled slightly differently (wynter, wintir, wintur, etc.), the word has scarcely changed at all in the past millennium. One might almost say that it had frozen.

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S

I don't know about the actual "winter, spring, summer, fall" names (my guess would be translation), but the origin of "seasons" is pagen. They go along with many pagen holidays -most of which are now considered Christian holidays (Christmas, Easter, Halloween...).
A good site (among many) http://www.blackwebportal.com/wire/DA.cfm?ArticleID=2170

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S

Nope, that's a fallacy. It's based on the direction of the water jets. In Oz, they actually do face the other way. In NZ, the use the same direction we use. Though when I was down there I had to experiment a few times to see what the outcome was. Of course, it's a 14 hour flight from LA so when you're jet lagged, anything can be seen.

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P

I wasn't expecting such a detailed answer.

Do places like Austriallia and New Zealand have the same season as us in the northern hemisphere? Like when it is Winter here, do they call it winter or summer down there?

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N

So Spinth21 - does the toilet really flush the other way down under?

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S

They call it summer because it's warm.

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