The English language is full of words that most people who were born here don’t know. For example “Pandiculate”; when you yawn and stretch at the same time.
The day after tomorrow is also called “Overmorrow”. It is however normal to just use the phrase “The day after tomorrow”.
Today, I want to talk about how this word came into existence, why it stopped being used, and why we should be using it again.
Looking at uncommon words shows just how fickle and mailable the English language is. Most of the time, when you think “there should be a word for this”, there usually is.
Every word (no matter whether it’s an official word, or just a slang word) has an etymology.
Overmorrow combines two words: Over and tomorrow.
Over means after, which is why we say words such as “overflow”- it’s what happens after the flow.
And morrow means morning, although “tomorrow” just refers to the day after today.
You may have noticed in Game of Thrones, the characters might say “On the morrow” in situations where we would say “tomorrow”. In the past, this is how everyone would have said, “In the morning”.
Interesting how “tomorrow” has caught on, but “overmorrow” hasn’t.
Why it hasn’t caught on
Finding out about such a word made me question why I didn’t know about this before.
And there are two competing theories as to why “overmorrow” isn’t a regular part of our lexicon.
The first one is that talking in Middle English grew out of style when the medieval times came to an end. As the culture changed, so did the language that we used. A similar fate will likely meet many of the words that we use today.
And another theory says that it was never popular. It was invented by one single author, and used by a few others. But most people have never used that word regularly.
Why it should
Even though it hasn’t caught on. I think it should.
Firstly, let’s be honest here. It sounds super cool. It’s one of those words that makes you seem like you know a lot of words. It makes you sound like you’re a kind of wizard or someone who’s just stepped out of a fantasy novel.
And the other reason is that it’s quicker than saying “the day after tomorrow”- which has 7 syllables, compared to “overmorrow”‘s 4.
The only challenge is getting people to know what it means.
What Google Books says
The word “overmorrow” has not been used for a very long time. I tried looking at published examples by checking out samples on Google Books. But I quickly came to find that the latest example of people using this word is from the 1800s.
And even when people were using this word, there aren’t more than 10 examples of it having been published (that I could find anyway).
This would suggest that even if it used to be known among small groups of people, or among people with similar interests, it’s not a word that people would be using daily.
Other weird names for time
We have a lot of strange names for periods of time that most people don’t know about.
A Kermit is 14.4 minutes. If you were to cut one 24-hour day into 100 parts, 1 part would be one Kermit.
A moment is used to mean “a short but unknown amount of time”. But in the past, a moment was 1/12 of the amount of time it took from sunrise to sunset.
About 90 minutes on average.
A galactic year is the amount of time it takes the solar system to travel around the galactic core—about 250 million years.
And a Sol is a day on Mars. 2.75% longer than a day on Earth.
When you can use “overmorrow”
Even if you might not be able to “overmorrow” when talking to your friends, you can still use it when writing your own fiction stories.
A great place to use it will be if you’re writing fiction stories. Such stories are usually written in English, but made to seem like they’re set in another world.
Most people will not recognise “overmorrow”, making it come across as something ancient and fantastical.
You can also use it if you’re writing historical fiction, and want your language to come across less modern.
If there is one language that is known for having a word for everything, it would be German. The German “übermorgen” is “overmorrow” when translated directly into English.
It would very well be that we got the word “overmorrow” from the German “übermorgen”. Many of the words that we have come from other languages are our language is a mish-mash of everyone who’s invaded us.
But unlike “overmorrow”, most Germans will know what you mean if you were to say “übermorgen”.
The day before yesterday
Now that we’ve covered the day after tomorrow, what about the day before yesterday?
Believe it or not, such a word already exists. “Ereyesterday”. “Ere” means before, therefore “Ereyesterday” means “The day before yesterday”.
Although “Ereyesterday” doesn’t quite have the same sophistication and authenticity that “overmorrow” has.
I don’t see this particular word showing up in a fantasy novel, or catching on in everyday language.
However, that’s not up for me to decide. If people choose to use “Ereyesterday” and not “overmorrow”, then there isn’t going to be a lot that I can do.
Funny thing the English language.
If you’ve ever wondered if there’s a word for the day after tomorrow, now you know the answer. There is, and that word is “overmorrow”, a combination of “over” and “tomorrow”.
This word died out when people stopped speaking Middle English, and it’s debatable if it was even popular in the first place.
Not only would it work great in a fantasy or historical novel, but it also uses up fewer syllables than saying “the day after tomorrow”. The Germans have the right idea with their word “übermorgen”.
We also have “Ereyesterday”- the day before yesterday. But this simply doesn’t have the same ring to it as “overmorrow”. And we also have plenty of other unconventional words for periods of time.