‘Fall’ is indeed a pukka Tudor word, deriving from the phrase ‘fall of the leaf’, which is first found in print in Toxophilus, 1545, an archery instruction manual by Queen Elizabeth’s tutor Roger Ascham, in which he lists the seasons as: “Spring tyme, Somer, faule of the leafe, and winter.”
This became shortened to ‘fall’ a century or so later, as in this example in the first known text on forestry, John Evelyn’s Sylva, 1664: “His [the Oak] leaves becoming yellow at the fall, do commonly clothe it all the winter.”
‘Fall’ traveled to North America with the early settlers and established itself there as the common name for autumn. The word died out in the UK but has begun to re-colonize now due the the take-up of the US expression ‘spring forward, fall back’ which we all use toward the end of October when, using the old English parlance, ‘the clocks go back’.
PS. Pukka (adj.) 1. Genuine; authentic. 2. Superior; first-class.
Etymology: [Hindi pakk, cooked, ripe, from Sanskrit pakva-, from pacati, he cooks; see pekw– in Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.