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Learning what AM and PM actually mean might seriously mess with your head

Learning what AM and PM actually mean might seriously mess with your head

It gets more confusing the more you think about it

Once we’ve learned our numbers and letters as kids, one of the next things to come along is reading a clock.

Although there are some people who admittedly still can’t do that, we all know how to tell the time in some way.

But like many things, there’s something very important that the more you think about it, the more confusing it gets.

And learning what AM and PM actually mean might seriously mess with your head - so, prepare yourself to take this in as I wrap my own head around it enough to explain it.

Typically, we all learn that ‘am’ refers to the first half of the day, the morning, and ‘pm’ refers to the second, the afternoon to evening.

AM is basically morning. (Getty Stock Image)
AM is basically morning. (Getty Stock Image)

This is quite literally their translations in Latin, as am stands for the phrase ‘ante meridiem’ which translates to ‘before midday’. And, you guessed it, pm stands for ‘post meridiem’, ‘after midday’.

But this is where things get confusing (and pretty petty to be honest), that technically means 12am and 12pm don’t really exist. Because how can 12 be after midday when that is, well, midday?




That’s certainly something to try and p*ss your mates off about and wind them up over when they suggest meeting up at 12pm.

Essentially the time lords, Royal Museums Greenwich (home of Greenwich Mean Time) say that it’s just ‘technically not quite right’.

Instead, it recommends: “To avoid any confusion (and to make sure you arrive on time), it might be best to say 12 noon or 12 midnight instead.”

It can get confusing. (Getty Stock Image)
It can get confusing. (Getty Stock Image)

Or, you know, you could go all military and use the 24-hour clock with 0:00 being midnight and 12:00 being midday. But let’s face it, you’d get ripped into shreds in the group chat for asking to meet up at 17:30.

Even then, there’s a whole other headache of should midnight be 0:00 or 24:00? But I think that one can be left for you to decide yourself.

Although, some people are too busy getting bothered about which way around the am and pm should be rather than realising it isn’t ‘technically’ correct at all.

One user wrote on X: “The am/pm distinctions for 12:00 are backwards and it upsets me. It should go from 12am to 1 pm.

“The fact the it goes from 11pm to 12 am is disgraceful. We should be ashamed. (Honestly military time makes the most sense but I’m not ready for that conversation).”

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Images

Topics: Weird