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A.D., B.C., B.C.E., C.E.

Anno Domini (Latin for in the year of the lord), or A.D., is the period beginning with the year 1. Common Era (C.E.) is an alternative, secular term for this period. B.C., which stands for before christ, covers all time before the year 1 (there is no year 0). Before Common Era (B.C.E.) is an alternative term for this era.


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Whether to include the periods or to leave them off (e.g., AD, CE, etc.) is a matter of preference. Some publishers use the periods, and some don’t.

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Comments

  1. I think we should just start all over and call year 1 the year when the first politically correct movement began. I don’t know when that was, but we can call it the year 1 P.C.E.

  2. I’ve always found it distinctly amusing that the PC police changed the terms to CE/BCE but still use the calendar that is based on the presence of Christ. The calendar might be wrong by a few years, but that’s still the basis. “Current Era,” indeed!

  3. Eric Pierre Carter says:

    The PC police did not invent the terms CE and BCE. They were in use among European Christian scholars as early as the 1700s. These terms later became popular among Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist scholars–three cultures which have their own religious-based calendar systems.

    Regardless of its origin, it would be counterproductive for anyone to ignore what has become the most dominant calendar system on the planet.

  4. G Tony Jacobs says:

    I agree, this has nothing to do with political correctness. People of many cultures have been using BCE and CE for centuries; the fact that Americans in the late 20th century tend not to be educated about it does not negate the fact that it’s been an ordinary scholarly practice for ages.

    I’m surprised this entry didn’t mention the usage quirk – that we write “A.D. 1066”, but “1066 B.C.”,”1066 C.E.” and “1066 B.C.E.”. At least, that’s the traditional rule.

  5. One should use small caps if ommitting the periods, however.

  6. The Abbreviation B.C.E. is commonly used to stand for “Before Christian Era”. C.E. is also commonly used to stand for “Christian Era”. These abbreviations are both secular and Christian.

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