The terms anno Domini
) and before Christ
) are used to label
or number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The term anno Domini
is Medieval Latin and means in the year of the Lord
but is often translated as in the year of our Lord
. It is occasionally set out
more fully as anno Domini nostri Iesu
("in the year of Our Lord Jesus Christ"). Dionysius Exiguus of Scythia Minor introduced the AD system in AD 525, counting the years since the birth of Christ.
This calendar era is based on the traditionally reckoned year of the conception or birth of Jesus of Nazareth, with AD
counting years from the start of this epoch
, and BC
denoting years before the start of the era. There is no year zero in this scheme, so the year AD 1 immediately follows the year 1 BC. This dating
system was devised in 525, but was not widely used until after 800.
The Gregorian calendar
is the most widely used calendar in the world today. For decades, it has been the unofficial global standard, adopted in the pragmatic
interests of international communication, transportation, and commercial integration
, and recognized by international institutions such as the United Nations.
Traditionally, English followed Latin usage by placing the "AD" abbreviation
before the year number. However, BC is placed after the year number (for example: AD 2017, but 68 BC), which also preserves syntactic order. The abbreviation is also widely used after the number of a century or millennium, as in "fourth century AD" or "second millennium AD" (although conservative usage formerly rejected such expressions). Because BC is the English abbreviation for Before Christ
, it is sometimes incorrectly concluded
that AD means After Death
, i.e., after the death of Jesus. However, this would mean that the approximate 33 years commonly associated with the life of Jesus would not be included in either of the BC and the AD time scales.
Terminology that is viewed by some as being more neutral and inclusive
of non-Christian people is to call this the Current or Common Era
(abbreviated as CE), with the preceding years referred to as Before the Common or Current Era (BCE). Astronomical year numbering and ISO 8601 avoid words or abbreviations related to Christianity
, but use the same numbers for AD years.