Keeping time: The origin of B.C. and A.D.

by Msnbctv news staff

The phrases “A.D.” and “B.C.” have their roots in Christianity. “A.D.” stands for anno domini (Latin for “within the 12 months of the lord”), and it refers particularly to the beginning of Jesus Christ. “B.C.” stands for “earlier than Christ.” 

The system labels years primarily based on a conventional notion of when Jesus was born — with the “A.D.” denoting years after his beginning and “B.C.” designating the years that predate his beginning. 

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