What's annoying me these days? The forgotten meaning of the word "anniversary" and the passing of the ordinal number. I am getting extremely tired of hearing people on television -- entertainment programming, reality shows, the news -- talk about the "x-year anniversary" of something. It shows that nobody knows Latin any more.
It may be uber-curmudgeonly of me to do this, but here's my detailed takedown of the practice. Come with me below the great orange schnecken:
From the Oxford English Dictionary, the etymology of the word:
Etymology: < Latin anniversāri-us returning yearly, < ann-us year + vers-us turned, a turning + -āri-us: see -ary suffix1. Compare advers-ārius, < advers-us. Used in medieval Latin subst. as anniversāria (sc. dies), and anniversārium, both ecclesiastical terms, whence also the subst. use is the earliest in English. Compare French anniversaire.Yes, year. It can be used as an adjective (which nobody does any more)
1552 R. Huloet Abcedarium Anglico Latinum, Annyuersary, or that which yerlye runneth at one tyme, Anniversarius.or a noun (much more common)
1591 G. Fletcher Of Russe Common Wealth xxi. f. 87, This day (which they keep anniuersarie).
1665 Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 1 110 Of Periodical and Anniversary Winds and their Causes.
1696 J. Aubrey Misc. (1721) 7 On that day Anniversary his Father and Mother died.
1712 J. Addison Spectator No. 433. ¶4 This Anniversary Carnival, which lasted about a Week.
1858 N. Wiseman Recoll. Last Four Popes 403 Commemorated by anniversary festivities
c1230 (1200) Ancrene Riwle (Corpus Cambr.) (1962) 15 In aniuersaries of ower leoueste freond.So we've established. YEAR. Admittedly, there has been slippage. Merriam-Webster.com defines anniversary thus:
1482 Caxton Chron. Eng. ccxlvi. 311 Ones in the yere at his annyuersarye his terement to be holden in the moost honest wyse.
1561 J. Veron Huntynge of Purgatorye f. 25, Yeares minds other wyse called anniversaries.
1660 R. Coke Elem. Power & Subj. 157 in Justice Vindic., The day we have appointed, viz. the Anniversary of S. John Baptist beheaded.
1695 N. Luttrell Diary in Brief Hist. Relation State Affairs (1857) III. 460 This being the anniversary of King Williams coronation.
1860 Sat. Rev. No. 249. 136/1 Wear orange ribbons on the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.
: the annual recurrence of a date marking a notable event; broadly : a date that follows such an event by a specified period of time measured in units other than years <the 6-month anniversary of the accident>Merriam-Webster provides example of usage, though, and these introduce the other part of my problem:
Examples of ANNIVERSARY:100th. You remember ordinal numbers, yes? First, second, third, fourth, tenth, twenty-fifth, fiftieth. Not any more.
the anniversary of the invasion
The exhibit will close on the 100th anniversary of the artist's death.
Some people you'd expect it from. Perez Hilton:
Happy One-Year Wedding Anniversary, William And Kate!The crew at tmz.com:
t's time to break out your silly hats again... 'cause today marks the one-year anniversary of Prince William and the Kate Middleton's televised marriage.But nwspapers? Here's the Washington Post:
The one year anniversary of the death of bin Laden, shot in his compound in a daring raid inside Pakistan, by the “go” order of President Obama, is once again becoming an occasion to attempt to justify torture.The Miami Herald:
Kate and Will’s one year anniversary a veddy special occasionEven the White House. THIS White House:
One Year Anniversary Recovery Act MapSo I wondered, does this happen for anything beside the first year?
From The Weekly Standard
Today marks the 2-year anniversary of the Democratically controlled House’s passage of Obamacare (without a single Republican vote).From the Village Voice
Canal Room Three-Year Anniversary PartyFrom Time.com:
Monday marks the five-year anniversary of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting that left 32 victims and the gunman dead.From ABC News
ABC News to Honor the Ten Year Anniversary of 9/11 with Special Coverage Across All Broadcasts and Platforms.You get the idea.
It's probably the slippery slope from the 6-month anniversary of the accident; if it works for months (which it doesn't - the six-month year-turning? It's like the the[La] tar[Brea] tar pits in Los Angeles) it might as well work for years too. Which would be fine if anniversary didn't mean what it means.
But I suppose the language has changed. I don't have to like it, though.