It’s been a glorious week in London. The sun has been (often) shining and the temperature has gotten well up there into seriously summer wardrobe levels.  Ahhh……

I was talking about the weather with a friend, as you do, and I said, “I love this Indian summer, although I suppose we shouldn’t call it that anymore.”
    “Why not?” he asked.
    “I suppose it should be ‘Native American’ summer these days, right?” I asked, surprisingly seriously.
    But his response was truly surprising. “But it’s not about those kinds of  Indians. Surely, it must have to do with an unusually warm stretch of weather that you might find in the India of the subcontinent.”
    Well, there is one nice little example of cultural imperialism for you. Having been raised in the US, I assumed the expression originated with us. My friend, a born and bred Englishman, assumed it came from Britain. And so, Ladies and Gentlemen, for all you who were wondering where the expression really does come from, I give you the definition as found on the site, The Phrase Finder:

The term Indian summer reached England in the 19th century, during the heyday of the British Raj in India. This led to the mistaken belief that the term referred to the Indian subcontinent. In fact, the Indians in question were the Native Americans, and the term began use there in the late 18th century.Indian summer is first recorded in Letters From an American Farmer, a 1778 work by the French-American soldier turned farmer J. H. St. John de Crèvecoeur (a.k.a. Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecoeur):
“Then a severe frost succeeds which prepares it to receive the voluminous coat of snow which is soon to follow; though it is often preceded by a short interval of smoke and mildness, called the Indian Summer.”
The English already had names for the phenomenon – St. Luke’s Summer, St. Martin’s Summer or All-Hallown Summer, but these have now all but disappeared and, like the rest of the world, the term Indian summer has been used in the UK for at least a century. Why Indian? Well, no one knows but, as is commonplace when no one knows, many people have guessed. Here are a few of the more commonly repeated guesses:
  • When European settlers first came across the phenomenon in America it became known as the Indian’s Summer.
  • The haziness of the Indian Summer weather was caused by prairie fires deliberately set by Native American tribes.
  • It was the period when First Nations/Native American peoples harvested their crops.
  • The phenomenon was more common in what were then North American Indian territories.
  • It relates to the marine shipping trade in the Indian Ocean (this is highly dubious as it is entirely remote from the early US citations).
  • It originated from raids on European settlements by Indian war parties, which usually ended in autumn.
  • In a parallel with other ‘Indian’ terms it implied a belief in Indian falsity and untrustworthiness and that an Indian summer was an ersatz copy of the real thing.

So there it is, the real origin of the phrase Indian Summer. Plus, it was found on the internet, and as we all know, if it’s on the internet, it must be true.

Thanks to