Battersea Locksmiths

Meridians and Midnights

Grrr. Pedant time again. I’ve just been ordering some stuff from Screwfix. Now, they are very handy and I’m very glad I have a branch only 5 minutes away, but I can’t help gnashing my¬† teeth at their description of when my Click And Collect will actually be collectable. Apparently it will be “after 12 pm”.

OK, not everyone obsesses over this kind of thing, but you’d think such a big outfit could afford someone knowledgable or capable of a bit of research. “12 pm” is pretty meaningless, as is “12 am”, but taken at face value it’s 12 hours after the meridian and is therefore midnight and almost certainly not what they meant (or is it?).

If you’re not going to use the twenty-four hour clock then you have to say midday or midnight; you can’t say 12 pm or 12 am. “pm” means post meridian, i.e. after midday; and “am” means ante meridian or before midday. So you can’t describe midday with either of them; you have to say midday. Grrr.

If, as a webmaster, you can’t be bothered to figure this out, then use the 24-hour clock (or military time as they seem to call it in North America). And to be clear it’s a 24-hour clock being used, please use leading zeroes (written and speech) and please leave out the colon. So midday become 1200 (twelve hundred hours) and midnight can either be referred to as 2400 – when your perception is that it’s the end of one day – or 0000 when your perception is the start of the next day.

And I’m not quite sure if it’s a joke or not, but it sounds odd saying, for example, 0030 as zero hundred thirty, so I quite like the alledged military phrase: “zero dark thirty” – night time you see – dark.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *