Here’s one for all you word freaks (of which I norally count myself as one). I’m confused. I’ve seen two competing references to the date suffix A.D., one that says it’s “Anno Domini” (in the year of Our Lord) and one that says “Ante Diem” (before the day). Both of these are Latin. I have it on pseudo-reliable sources that B.C. is simply “Before Christ” - which is not Latin. If it were latin it would be Ante Christus (which I can see would be highly unpopular)…
So my questions are:

(1) Why is A.D. in Latin, but B.C. is not?

(2) Which A.D. is it?

(3) If it’s Ante Diem, what specific day are we talking about?

A.D. is Anno Domini, year of the Lord. It was intended to be the year from the (mis)calculated year of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

There was not any specific reference to “BC” until (I believe) the Eighteenth Century, when various schaolars began trying to describe historical events on a single continuous time-line. The historians that we read wrote in English and used the English abbreviation for “Before Christ.”

When A.D. was first used, the intent was simply to reckon the ongoing years in annals and journals. History as a “science” was not practiced or even worried about very much, so phrase (or its abbreviation) was assigned to the dates prior to the birth of Jesus. Anyone who wrote about those periods would have simply used the nomenclature of the period about which they were writing (“In the fourth year of the reign of Joco the Wonderful, during the last year of the minority of his son, Jaco.”)


“so no phrase (or its abbreviation”

I’m curious about this reference that said it stood for “ante diem”. Somebody seriously thinks “AD” stands for “before the day”, but sees no problem with the fact that we’ve been counting UP for about 1600 years now and no one in all that time has said “Hey, wait a minute…”?

Torq, you idealist you, you have only to look around at most politicians to see how many of them think time flows backwards.