Why we call it ‘spring:’ The etymology of the seasons.

Gardeners for wildlife and other nature lovers will welcome the sight of Erythronium umbilicatum, more commonly known as Trout Lilies. This lily, one of the few true ephemerals in our region, will bloom in low damp areas for a month or less beginning in February. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Why do we call the first season of the calendar year — when plants first begin to bud and bloom — spring?

Beginning in the late 14th century, spring was referred to as “springing time.”

“Springing time,” later shortened to the season name “spring,” refers to the “spring of the year” when plants begin to rise from the ground.

The term refers to the noun in its older meaning: “action or time of rising or springing into existence” used in relation to the sunrise, the waxing of the moon, rising tides and more.

Other Germanic languages tend to take words for “fore” or “early” as their roots for the season’s name.

Previously, the season had been called “Lent,” an Old English word referring to the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter, short for “Lenten” or the forty days of fasting before Easter in the Christian calendar.

What about the other seasons? Find out here.



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