One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Especially following (or occasionally preceding) a date or time period: before the birth of Christ; in the time before year 1 of the Christian era.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in John Gregory (1607–1646), orientalist. From post-classical Latin ante Christum natum from classical Latin ante before + post-classical Latin Christum, accusative of Christus + classical Latin nātum, accusative of nātus born, past participle of nāscī to be born.
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