Seasonal and Unseasonable

By Maeve Maddox

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With all the storms, flooding, and unusually low temperatures in the news, I’ve been noticing a proliferation of the word “unseasonal.”

Unseasonal rain may continue

Southerners lamenting the loss of summer need to brace for more unsettled and unseasonal weather in the coming days

Unseasonal weather and flower production – will there be a shortage?

Unseasonal spring storms are hitting the South

In each of these examples, the weather being described is seen as not being usual for the time of year. The appropriate word in this context is the negative of seasonable, which is unseasonable.

seasonable: Occurring at the right season, opportune. Of weather, etc.: Suitable to the time of year.

The word seasonal differs in meaning from seasonable.

seasonal: Pertaining to or characteristic of the seasons of the year, or some one of them.

Things that change with the season are “seasonal.” One speaks of seasonal occupations, seasonal employment, and seasonal products. Strictly speaking, seasonal does not have a negative form. This unusually cold, wet weather we’re experiencing in the South this May is unseasonable.

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2 Responses to “Seasonal and Unseasonable”

  • John Fawkes

    Glad to hear I’m not the only grammar Nazi who gets bothered by this.

  • Precise Edit

    Perhaps people say “unseasonal” because it sounds, somewhat, like “unusual.” On the other hand, “unseasonable” sounds a bit like “unsuitable,” which is how I will remember the difference from now on.

    From one word junkie to another: Thanks for the great tip!

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