What Does Spring Ahead Fall Back Mean?

Spring Ahead Fall Back Meaning

Definition: Set your clocks ahead one hour in the spring for daylight saving time, and move them back one hour in fall, at the end of daylight saving time.

This expression acts as a mnemonic device for remembering which direction to turn one’s clocks. An alternative form is spring forward fall back.

Origin of Spring Ahead Fall Back

This expression wouldn’t exist without daylight saving time. Daylight saving time began to be implemented in the early 1900s, although Benjamin Franklin had proposed a similar idea in the 1700s.

The idea behind daylight saving time was to utilize daylight hours more efficiently by waking up earlier during the time of year in which the sun rose earlier and set earlier. Because the sun stays out longer during the spring and summer months, people move their clocks forward in the springtime. They move them back in the fall, or autumn.

Newspapers had begun printing the mnemonic device spring forward fall back by as early as the 1920s. This relates to the word play, in which spring forward means jump forward (the movement of the clocks) as well as spring the season. Likewise, fall back means to topple backwards (the movement of the clocks) as well as the autumn season.

Examples of Spring Ahead Fall Back

define spring ahead fall back This example shows two coworkers who are discussing daylight saving time.

Regina: When does daylight saving time end this year?

Ginny: It ends on Sunday, November 5.

Regina: I hate daylight saving time. I think it is a hassle and doesn’t actually save energy by utilizing daylight hours. And I can never remember which way to move my clocks!

Ginny: Just remember to spring ahead and fall back. November is fall, so at 2 A.M. move your clock back to 1 A.M.

meaning of spring ahead fall back In this example, two friends are talking about daylight saving time.

Kevin: Hey! Daylight saving time starts tomorrow. Don’t forget to spring forward and fall back!

Steve: Thanks for the reminder, but I don’t need it. I only use my cell phone clock, and it resets itself.

Kevin: That’s convenient!

More Examples

This example is about Texans considering ending the practice of daylight saving time in their state.

  • The first part of the annual spring forward, fall back tradition means Texans need to turn their clocks forward an hour on Saturday night, moving an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. –Houston Chronicle

This quote is about another area one could apply the mnemonic device.

  • 3 Reasons Why ‘Spring Forward, Fall Back’ Also Applies To Gold –Forbes


The phrase spring ahead fall back is a mnemonic device to help people remember which way to move their clocks when daylight saving time begins in spring and ends in autumn.