People Are Only Just Realising What AM And PM Mean

People are only just realising what AM and PM stands for on a 12-hour clock.
Credit: Alamy

People are only just realising what AM and PM stand for on a 12-hour clock.

There are some things in life that we just tend to accept and never question.

One of them is the meaning of AM and PM when describing the time on a 12-hour clock.

Well, someone on TikTok has gone ahead and asked for an answer behind it.

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In a post that has been viewed over 8,000 times, Amaya Clarke asks: “What does AM and PM stand for?” 

Many in the comments assumed it stands for ‘after midnight’ and ‘past midday’ which makes sense.

Some guessed it was something similar such as ‘at morning’ and ‘past morning’.

While these suggestions aren’t far off, there is an actual origin to why we use AM and PM when telling the time.

Some people in the comments correctly guessed this, however, others on social media were not aware of it.

One person says: “Well I didn’t know this and I’m in my 50’s! Was never taught this in school either.

“If I’m honest, I’d never even thought about it, just called it morning and afternoon.”

“I don’t think they taught us that in school. Seems like new information to me,” adds a second user.

It is because of this that you shouldn’t actually call midday 12pm.

Another person comments: “I’m in my 30s and never heard of this and no they never taught this in any school I went to lol.”

Although, some were saying they already knew this and it was common knowledge. 

Someone writes: “I only know it because we were taught it in Latin. Not sure others would.”

Another person says: “There used to be a thing called school that taught stuff like this.”

“Anyone who doesn’t know this shouldn’t be allowed to handle any kind of device or be allowed to stay awake after 7pm,” suggests a third. 

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So, what do AM and PM really stand for?

Well, according to Royal Museums Greenwich, the home of Greenwich Mean Time, it explains: “AM stands for the Latin ante meridiem, translating to ‘before midday’. 

“This is the time before the sun has crossed the meridian. 

“PM stands for post meridiem or ‘after midday’ – after the sun has crossed the meridian.”

@amayaclarke08 Genuine question 🥴 #foryoupage #fyp #foryou #viral #coming2america ♬ Renai Circulation (English Cover) [2012 TV Size] – Lizz Robinett

According to the experts, they explain: “At exactly 12 noon, the Sun is at its highest point in the sky and directly over the meridian. 

“It is, therefore, neither ‘ante’ (am) nor ‘post’ (pm) meridian. At 12 midnight it also neither am nor pm.”



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Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a content editor at IGV who specialises in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.