What does B.C. stand for?
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What does B.C. mean?

May 2016 - B.C. stands for Before Christ, and it means the number of years before the birth of Jesus Christ. That was about 2000 years ago, so the date 552 B.C. means 2552 years ago.

Some people use B.C.E. instead. That stands for Before the Common Era, and is used in order to avoid Christian references. Quatr.us feels that since this is a Christian dating system, based on when Jesus was born, it's misleading people to try to hide that.

Why don't we just say 2552 years ago, if that's what we mean? Why would that be inconvenient? (scroll down for the answer).

To find out about A.D., click here.

Click here to go back to the page you came from.

*The answer is, because we keep going forward in time. So if you wrote in a book that something happened 2552 years ago (or whatever), the next year the books would still say 2552, but now it would be 2553, and the year after that it would be 2554 years ago. It would be too confusing.

Bibliography and further reading about history timelines:

More about A.D. or C.E.
Quatr.us home

Decorative timelines for your classroom:

This one is American history


and this one is African-American history:

It's harder to do all of World History in one chart:

but this World History timeline sums it all up.



A timeline game to play - more fun than flash cards!

For Presidents' Day, check out our articles about Washington in the Revolutionary War and Lincoln in the Civil War. Find out about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the other Amendments, and how Washington promised to include freedom of religion.
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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