Let me diarise that…

This morning I came across a new word. That is to say, one I’ve not previously come across (or at least not registered), though I think it’s actually been around for quite a while.

The word is diarise (also, apparently spelt diarize) and, as you can see from the link, it’s sufficiently well-established to have its own entry on Wiktionary, though sadly without any etymological information. I haven’t got round to checking it out in any of my bigger dictionaries but it doesn’t appear in the Collins Gem English Dictionary (1988 edition – a souvenir from my school days) — that’s probably more due to the diminutive size of the dictionary than a reliable indication that the word didn’t exist 25 years ago.

The word, according to Wiktionary, means “to record (events) in a diary”. I suppose it could refer to keeping a journal (à la “January 9th – today I learnt an absolutely spiffing new word…”) but in the context in which I discovered it (a work-related email) it referred to making a note of the dates of several forthcoming events.

Although I’ve managed to get through several decades of life without knowing this word, it strikes me as one that, now I know it, will be very useful.

How black is my Friday?

This morning, I discovered that there are two different days that are both referred to as Black Friday.

Up until now, I’ve always understood Black Friday to be the last Friday before Christmas (or possibly before Christmas Eve), which is the traditional night for office Christmas parties and hence a particularly busy night for pubs, clubs, restaurants and the emergency services. This indeed appears to be the more traditional British English usage of the term. According to Wikipedia, the day is known in South Yorkshire as Mad Friday. Interestingly this is also a direct translation of the name used for the same night in Welsh – Nos Wener Wallgo. As a consequence, I often tend to think of it as Mad Friday myself (since I first learnt about the concept in Welsh rather than English) and I have been known to confuse people by calling it Mad Friday when I’m speaking English.

It turns out that in the United States they mean something quite different by the term Black Friday. Over there, it refers to the day after Thanksgiving Day (itself the fourth Thursday in November), which is taken as the beginning of the Christmas Shopping season and, in recent years, has become a popular day for shops to offer promotional sales (with extended opening hours). According to an article on the UK edition of the Huffington Post this morning, this idea has now spread to our shores, although we still don’t celebrate Thanksgiving itself. I can’t say I’ve noticed it at all (except on Amazon, who have been having a Black Friday promotion – I didn’t pay much attention to the advance advertising and assumed they were getting ready for 19th December), but it’s possible it just hasn’t reached North Wales yet.

Actually, there is also a third (though technically, this usage predates the other two) Black Friday – the name has sometimes been used as a synonym for Good Friday, i.e. the Friday before Easter, which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus (Easter itself, if you didn’t know, celebrates his resurrection; it’s not just an excuse to eat too much chocolate). I was vaguely aware of this usage although I don’t think it’s very common these days. Probably just as well, as it’s confusing enough having two different days with the same name.