Does winter 2015 designate winter 2014-2015 or winter 2015-2016? Or is it ambiguous?

Example 1:

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Example 2: http://huwisu.de/courses/winter/ :

HUWISU Winter Courses 2017

Example 3: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/So_Fresh:_The_Hits_of_Winter_2001

So Fresh: The Hits of Winter 2001 is a compilation of songs that were popular in Australia in winter 2001.

Example 4: http://www.fpri.org/issues/orbis-winter-2001/

Editor’s Column Winter 2001

  • What is the context? It is ambiguous otherwise, but usually I would interpret it as the winter of 2014–15, e.g. for ski seasons, because most of the winter is in the new year, and a "winter quarter" is usually the first quarter of the year. – choster Aug 24 '16 at 3:29
  • Can you give an actual usage example, where there is no other context to determine the included years? – user3169 Aug 24 '16 at 3:34
  • Interesting. I'm used to the academic system. Winter 2015 or the winter quarter would be winter 2015-2016. I'm guessing "winter 2015" doesn't have a fixed meaning. Wikipedia and the National Weather Channel use two years: Winter 2015-2016. – Em. Aug 24 '16 at 3:38
  • @Max What institution? The ones I'm familiar with run fall (late September through December), winter (January through March), and spring (April through June), so in the 2015–16 academic year, the quarter is winter 2016. – choster Aug 24 '16 at 3:41
  • 1
    @FranckDernoncourt But where? What kind of publication? By what kind of author? About what kind of subject? – choster Aug 24 '16 at 4:09

Winter 2015 is ambiguous and could designate both winter 2014-2015 and winter 2015-2016, although generally, and given no further context, I would assume it refers to the winter months beginning in late 2015 and ending early 2016.

But be careful. I live in the northern hemisphere. For those living in the southern hemisphere, winter falls in the middle of the year, some time between June to September.

Looking at a couple of your examples:


Winter is an odd season since its weather spans calendar years.

Winter time in 2015 would include the months of January, February, and December for the calendar year in 2015, based on the alignment of Memorial Day being the beginning of Summer (June, July, August) and Labor Day being the beginning of Fall (September, October, November).

However, Winter is a season.

From my experience (and possible bias), Winter 2015 refers to December 2015, January and February 2016. Christmas and school holidays being the anchor for what is "Winter".
Often, "January" and "February" in the Winter season gets referred to by name: January 2016 (Winter 2015).

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