“Expiry Date”?

My heart quickened when I saw this headline — for an article about women runners in their 40s who are still running — in yesterday’s New York Times:

In the early days of the blog, I had written about “sell-by date,” a British term roughly equivalent to what Americans call “expiration date.” A bit later, I noted one American use of the similar term “expiry date.”

I hadn’t encountered it again till the Times headline. Unfortunately, the quote in it is from one of the runners, and she turns out to be from British Columbia, so it doesn’t properly count as a NOOB. On the plus side, this spurred me to create a new category and put “expiry date” in it: “false alarms.”

12 thoughts on ““Expiry Date”?

  1. To me, this is the same category as “opening hours.” In other words, a term that seems a bit off to an American, yet does not have enough cachet to be used intentionally by an American.

  2. I find it slightly suprising that a Canadian speaker uses the British expression for a feature of industrial-scale food retailing. Surely Canadian supermarkets have many more canned and frozen goods imported from the US than from the UK.

    1. Language can be remarkably resistant to foreign packaging. For another example, hardware stores in Canada are full of US-manufactured ‘faucets’, but that doesn’t stop anyone from calling them taps.

      But in this case I suspect the speaker was thinking more of the the expiry date for a driving licence or passport, rather than of a food product, which in Canada are normally labelled ‘best before’ (and indeed ‘meilleur avant’). ‘Expiration date’, if that’s truly what Americans would say, sounds oddly stilted to my ears.

      1. Ahhh, it says “exp”. Other cards say good thru or valid thru. Now where is it and how is it that I know expiry?

      2. At in the section about Interim Driver’s Licenses and Photo ID’s, it says
        “The interim product looks the same as a permanent product with the word “INTERIM” printed in red across the front and the expiry date and outlined in red. The interim product is valid for 15 days. “

    1. I found two instances on dmv.ca.gov. Example “For making payments using our site, you must provide your name as printed on your credit/debit card, as well as your card type, card number, expiry date, security code, and zip code. DMV uses industry standard safeguards to protect the financial information we collect.”

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