This week I’ll take a look at some seasonal words and how they should be treated.

  • Seasons are not capitalized.
  • Springtime and summertime and both one word, no hyphens.
  • Spring cleaning and spring break are both two words, and neither should have any capitalization.
  • Frisbee is a trademarked name, so unless you’re writing about a genuine Frisbee, you should say flying disc.
  • It should be barbecue, not barbeque or Bar-B-Q or BBQ. BBQ generally is acceptable in headlines, however.
  • Most animal names don’t require any capitalization. For example, robin, hawk, squirrel, chipmunk and raccoon are all lowercase. If you write about the Baltimore oriole or Cooper’s hawk, the proper nouns should be capped.
  • The British refer to vacations as holidays. According to Merriam-Webster, before vacation came into vogue in the late 1800s, Americans used holiday as well.
  • Thunderstorm is one word, as are sandstorm and windstorm. Dust storm is two words. Why? Good question.
  • Flash flood is two words.
  • According to AP, a tornado warning “warns the public of an existing tornado or one suspected to be in existence.” A tornado watch “alerts the public to a possibility of a tornado.”
  • Summer unofficially starts on Memorial Day. The season technically begins on June 20.
  • Ask the Editor earlier this year weighed in on T-shirt – it should be exactly as written here. The short form would be T, not tee.
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