Whenever I read a US date I have the problem of figuring out what each number represents. So when I see: 10/11/12 I assume it means "10th November 2012" (which would be the norm for my country) or "12th November 2010" (which would make the most sense to me) but it actually means "11th October 2012".

So, how did this come to be? Shouldn't the order of elements be from largest to smallest or from smallest to largest? What's more, one says hundred-twenty-two, not hundred-two-twenty.

  • I'm in the US, and I always write 2014-11-21 or spell out November 21, 2014. – snailplane Nov 21 '14 at 13:11
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a non language issue. – user6951 Nov 21 '14 at 15:55
  • I don't believe your final point is entirely true, Mr. ein hundert zwei-und-zwanzig. :-) – Hellion Nov 21 '14 at 16:06
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    This question appears to be off-topic because the question asks "why" the convention is the way it is. – Damkerng T. Nov 21 '14 at 19:25

It's just how the language evolved in America. Look at it this way: 10/11/12 doesn't 'mean' 11th October 2012, it means October 11th, 2012. This preserves the order of the shortened version. It just reflects the common American English way of speaking dates out loud.

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    Details on "how the language evolved in America"? – user6951 Nov 21 '14 at 16:05
  • @CarSmack That's just how Americans have used dates, going back centuries, if you look up old documents in Google Books for example. Related at EL&U: Date format in UK vs US. – choster Nov 22 '14 at 1:49
  • @choster I had seen that page and didnt find anything definitive. – user6951 Nov 22 '14 at 3:35

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