Annual and Anniversary
A non-native English speaker wonders about this use of the word anniversary in a business communication:
The prices and products below are based on a 36-month contract, free unit and free installation. Tracker experiences an across-the-board anniversary increase (inflation based) every October.
The reader comments,
I cannot remember ever seeing “anniversary” used in this context. I would have expected a word such as “annual.”
The usage sounds odd to a native speaker as well.
Both words, annual and anniversary, derive from the Latin annus, “returning yearly.”
Anniversary entered the language as a noun in the early 13th century with the meaning “day of a person’s death.” In church use, anniversary came to be used attributively in the phrase “anniversary days,” dates on which saints or martyrs were celebrated.
Annual came along as an adjective about 150 years later in the context of paying an “annual wage.”
Although both words can function as either noun or adjective, in modern usage, anniversary is used primarily as a noun and annual as an adjective:
The Queen to celebrate the 70th anniversary of VE Day at a Westminster Abbey service with veterans
Penguin Celebrates 80th Anniversary
Annual price increases are common in B2B [business-to-business] subscriptions.
The Annual Picnic is usually a purely social event, and everyone is encouraged to attend.
Although both words refer to a yearly event, anniversary carries connotations of celebration and remembrance, whereas annual is a workaday word meaning “occurring once a year.” In observing an anniversary, one might speak of “an anniversary celebration” or “an anniversary dinner,” but in a business context, it’s more idiomatic to speak of “annual meetings” and “annual price increases.”
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