7 words that capture the essence of autumn

With blustery gales, golden leaves and darker evenings ahead, autumn is the perfect time of year to indulge in your favourite treats and activities. To celebrate the most bountiful season, we’ve curated a selection of words that capture its essence, from delicious treats to the words that capture that crisp fall feeling.


If you’ve ever spent a day indoors, wearing your cosiest jumper and listening to the pouring rain outside, you’ve probably experienced the pure joy of hygge. A word of Danish origin which rose to prominence in 2016 and featured in the Collins Word of the Year, hygge is the practice of creating a cosy environment that promotes wellbeing. Blankets, candles and books galore, ’tis the season to snuggle up with your favourite autumn comforts.


Speaking of snuggling up, a blanky is the perfect accompaniment to a gloomy autumn day. A blanky, or blanket, is a soft piece of fabric that people use to wrap themselves in when cold, and in this form, it’s often associated with children in the form of a security blanket. A blanky can used as a therapeutic object for both adults and children alike, with the most famous blanky appearing alongside the character Linus – a name which came to be used as a modifier to describe a security blanket – in the comic strip ‘Peanuts’!


For many, the start of autumn is marked by crunchy orange leaves lining the streets. A tree or bush that sheds its leaves every autumn is known as a deciduous tree. This word finds its roots in the Latin dēciduus, ‘falling off’, which itself comes from dēcidere, ‘to fall down’, and cadere, ‘to fall’. Deciduous can also mean transitory and impermanent, which is the perfect way to describe the gentle transition from summer into colder months.


If you prefer to consult the astronomical calendar to judge the beginning and end of your seasons, then look no further than the equinox. This biannual phenomenon, in which both the day and the night are of equal length, happens in the spring and the autumn. Its Latin ancestor aequinoctium means ‘equal night’. You can read more about the etymology of equinox here.


A recent addition to the Collins Dictionary, s’mores are a comforting dessert, ideal for cold nights. A common sweet snack in the US, a s’more is made of toasted marshmallow and chocolate sandwiched between two biscuits. Typically cooked over a campfire, it’s also a great choice for toasting at your next bonfire. ‘S’more’ is a contraction of ‘some more’, a reference to their incredibly moreish flavour. 


One of the best things about the English language is finding words that mean something very specific in relation to weather or the seasons. For example, petrichor describes that nostalgic, earthy, sweet smell that occurs when it rains after a long, dry period in the spring or summer. Autumn has its own magical word, susurrous (try saying that three times fast), which means full of whispering or rustling sounds. Close your eyes and imagine the susurrous sound of the wind rustling golden autumn leaves… Bliss.


Last but not least in our autumn bounty of words, we have cornucopia. In its simplest form, it means a large number of different items, typically produce. During this time of year, you might picture an overflowing harvest scene related to Thanksgiving, laden with wheat, fruit and vegetables. Cornucopia comes from the Latin cornū cōpiae, which means ‘horn of plenty’.

What are your favourite autumnal words? Tweet us at @CollinsDict.

By Rachel Quin
Rachel Quin is a freelance marketer and copywriter with a love of language, books and cats.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

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