Seven essential words of FALL

Career & Education

Seven essential words of FALL

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!


A deciduous tree is one that sheds its leaves annually, distinct from an evergreen tree that keeps its foliage year round. But this autumnal adjective also has a much more poetic meaning of “not permanent” or “transitory”.

Of these two, the scientific “transitory” sense emerged first (in the mid-1600s), but both stem from the Latin deciduus meaning “falling down, falling off”.


Pumpkin patches, apple trees, and heaps of fallen leaves are a few images that may come to mind when you think of autumn. But what about gossamer?

This delightfully descriptive word is defined as “a fine, filmy cobweb seen on grass or bushes or floating in the air in calm weather, especially in autumn”. The term is also used to refer to a delicate variety of gauze.


The cornucopia, a symbol of abundance that many of us have come to associate with Thanksgiving, has its roots in classical mythology.

The word comes from the Latin cornu copiae, meaning “horn of plenty”. The horn in question belonged to the nymph Amalthaea, who suckled Zeus as an infant on goat's milk. Sometimes, she is represented as the goat.

As one version of the story goes, Zeus accidentally broke off one of Amalthaea's horns. To make up for this, he promised the horn would always be filled with whatever its owner desired ... apparently fruits and flowers?

Indian summer

An Indian summer is a period of warm, dry weather occurring in late October or early November, and following a period of colder weather.

The coinage of this term, recorded in the late 1700s, is uncertain, though one theory is that it stems from the Native Americans' practice of gathering food for winter during this unseasonable heat wave.

In the UK, an autumnal warm spell can be called a St Luke's Little Summer and St Martin's Summer, for when these Christian saints' feast days fall in October and November, respectively.


Speaking of Halloween, the word is ultimately a shortened version of the phrase 'All Hallows' Even', which means “Eve of All Saints”.


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon