Word of the Day



typical of or relating to autumn

Origin and usage

The origin of the word autumnal comes from the late 16th century Latin ‘autumnalis’, from ‘autumnus’ meaning ‘autumn’. It is used to describe scenes or circumstances that evoke this season.


The word autumnal can be used to describe many of the characteristics specific to the time of year known as autumn, also called fall in the United States. In the northern hemisphere, autumn stretches from mid-September to mid-October and sees the temperature drop from the warmth of summer into the more frigid temperatures of winter, which are more extreme further north but are less variant closer to the equator. In the most northern polar regions, the autumnal season is very short.

Many autumnal festivals and cultural events revolve around food production and the harvest season, which happens in the animal world as some creatures gather food in preparation for winter or hibernation. Other autumnal festivals revolve around the fact that the days begin to get shorter, the temperatures begin to drop, and trees begin to shed their leaves.

The autumnal equinox describes the point in time when the sun is situated exactly above the equator and the day and night for that period are exactly the same length. The autumnal harvest moon is the full moon which occurs closest to the equinox. Due to the angle of the moon’s orbit in relation to the horizon, the moon usually rises much faster than usual at this time.


“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace 
As I have seen in one autumnal face.”

(John Donne)

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”

(Nathaniel Hawthorne)

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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