When is midday? Sometime between 12 and 3?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by spatula, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. spatula

    spatula Senior Member

    English - London (Irish ethnicity)
    Greetings one and all

    I've had problems having the word 'midday' understood to mean noon, when not addressing BE native speakers. When I've cited it as a scheduled time, I've been asked to clarify specifically what time between 12pm and 3pm I mean. This has happened with a wide variety of English speakers from around the globe, including AE.

    Is it just in BE that midday means 12pm?
  2. GretchenPlay Senior Member

    Yang yang, South Korea
    New Zealand, NZE
    I'm in New Zealand, and I'd definitely take midday to mean 12pm...
  3. tannen2004 Senior Member

    AE really doesn't use midday, and when we do (which is rarely), it seem that we generally mean the hours in the middle of the day (anywhere from 11am-3pm or so). When we want to say 12 pm we almost always say noon.
  4. boriszcat

    boriszcat Senior Member

    Slovakia / Slovacco / Slowakei / Slovensko
    English - US and Dude - a California dialect
    Yes, to an American, midday sounds like simply, the middle part of the day. Noon means 12 o'clock to me. Or even 12 noon. But I just realized something funny - if you say to me "midnight", I will instantly think of exactly 12 o'clock at night. :) It's just a quirk of American English, I suppose.
  5. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    I find nothing strange about the expression "midday." Google returns over 8 million hits --- certainly not all BE.

    Maybe it's one of those things that hasn't been passed on to AE-speaking youth (which is another way of saying that it might be old-codger speak).
  6. Esca Senior Member

    I don't think "midday" is antiquated in any way, but from my experience in AE it's rather general. I perceive it to be a period of the day spanning a few hours, such as "mid-morning," "early afternoon," "late evening," etc. How often do you have occasion to say these phrases? Not very often (maybe in scheduling, or in local news reports), but they're not antiquated or out of use.
    I've never heard "midday" used to specifically mean "noon."
  7. xqby

    xqby Senior Member

    Santa Maria, CA
    English (U.S.)
    I think Americans tend to perceive midday as the middle of our waking day, rather than the day's mathematical center. I get up at 6 a.m. on most days, and try to go to bed at around 10 at night. That's sixteen hours awake. Thus the middle of the day, as I experience it, is at 2:00 in the afternoon.
  8. spatula

    spatula Senior Member

    English - London (Irish ethnicity)
    These views are as I suspected. I must admit that before now, the only time I'd considered 'midday' to mean anything other than noon is in Noel Coward's song Mad Dogs and Englishmen - I've always thought that his use of 'the midday sun' could only be referring to the middle section of the day rather than the stroke of noon.

    Interesting, though, to note that should I make an appointment for midday, the only other person I could guarantee would be there at noon would be my New Zealand friend!

    Thank you all for your comments.
  9. I heard a perfect example of AE usage this morning. A traffic reporter on a local radio station said, "there will be construction on I-95 throughout the midday hours today."

    I think listeners would understand "midday hours" to mean 11-ish to 2-ish. The term is deliberately vague because the reporter does not know exactly when the construction will happen, just that it will be sometime between late morning and early afternoon - the period for which the word "midday" is perfectly suited.

    If she had said "at midday" (no "hours"), listeners would probably have thought in terms of a narrower window, closer to noon - perhaps 11 to 1. They would never imagine the construction crews poised at roadside, waiting to start their work precisely at noon.
  10. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Please read the thread question.
    There are lots of other threads that talk endlessly in a fruitless attempt to come to a conclusion on the 12am/pm question. If that's what oils your wheels, please go and find one.
    This thread is about:
    When is midday? Sometime between 12 and 3?
    When I've cited it as a scheduled time, I've been asked to clarify specifically what time between 12pm and 3pm I mean.
    Further posts on that topic are very welcome.
    Further posts on other topics will be removed.
  11. Masuas Senior Member

    If you put it that way, is expected to agree with you, and conclude that has to be around the number 12, so, between 11am and 2 pm, should be called " midday".

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