I know they refer to Before Christ and Anno Domini, but I'm not sure if I should read Before Christ or just "B, C"(the pronunciation of letters).

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    I think "B C" (letters) is usual. Same as with "am" and "pm" in times.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 15:03
  • Just say the letters for both: BC and AD. As for reading, you can say the letters or what they stand for.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 15:04
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    @FumbleFinger5s BCE is not BC; those are different. If you want to point out the difference fine but please do not tell me one can read BC as BCE.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 16:22
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    @Jay: There's a world of difference between baldly stating something as a fact, and reporting that someone else has made such a statement. But secularists and Christians all live by the same calendar today,.. Bottom line: CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era) mean the same thing as anno Domini (AD) and before Christ (BC). Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 23:09
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    @prl The difference is that the former is an abbreviation of Before Christ and the latter is an abbreviation of Before Common Era. The two may be describing the same thing, but that kinda just makes them synonyms. You're free to use whichever you want in your own text, but you'd be paraphrasing if you decided to swap them out in a quote.
    – A C
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 3:07

1 Answer 1


Always just say the letters "BC" and "AD".

More people know what "AD" means than what "Anno Domini" means.

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    It used to be common for a male Brit with a certain level of education to ruefully answer 'anno domini, old chap' if a pal said something like 'Why don't you go to rock concerts any more?' Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 15:47
  • The way I was taught Latin at school, I'd say 'domini' differently from the way people seem to say it in the phrase 'Anno Domini'. Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 15:50
  • Yes, to clarify, the former sounds like bee sea (an ocean of honey-producing insects) and the latter rhymes with shady (though the stress is on the second syllable) and not shad. Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 16:04
  • Straight Latin would say the -ini like in bikini,, whereas in the AD thing it is like in-eye. Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 16:09
  • @MichaelHarvey historically, Medieval and Ecclesiastical Latin would be pronounced with the same pronunciation rules as the speaker's native language. In the 20th century, this largely shifted to a Italianate pronunciation. However, for stock phrases in English, the prior pronunciations tend to be maintained (e.g., "et cetera" is pronounced /ɛt 'sɛtəɹə/ and not /et 'tʃetera/ or /et 'ketera/)
    – PC Luddite
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 3:19

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