I've been stuck on this one for a while. While both make sense, they seem to have significantly different meanings.

It seems likely that one originated from a misinterpretation of the other.

It would be cool to know which came first, and -- more importantly -- could one of them be logically/grammatically incorrect?

My gut is telling me that "Year in review" is nothing but a widely accepted mistake, especially when I consider that "Year-end review" has common variations such as "End-of-year review" while I am not aware of "Year in review" having any variations.

Note: According to search engine results, "Year-end review" seems about twice as popular as "Year in review".

  • "Year in review" has been a common term for 50 years, at least.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 6, 2022 at 23:55

1 Answer 1


When used as a title, or something similar, the two phrases can have overlapping meanings. However, when used in complete sentences, the two phrases are typically used quite differently.

A year-end review is a review of something held at the end of the year. The year in review could be used as the name of this year-end review, but it can also simply be a phrase describing the period (one year) that is being reviewed.

Here's an example of year in review from 1888, which is one of the earliest uses Google Books can find:

Statement X is a summary of commitment by courts and counties for the year in review

Annual Report of the Commissioners of Prisons - vol 17

Here's an even stronger example from 1897:

The reports of the directors, consulting engineer, and manager, taken in conjunction with the financial statements, make you acquainted with the work accomplished during the year in review.

African Review - vol 12

Particularly in that last example, it would make little sense to interpret that sentence as referring to the work accomplished during the year-end review. Much more likely, the author means the work accomplished during the year which is being reviewed.

And checking the other possibility, that year-end is somehow a corruption of year in, here's a 19th century example of year-end review that cannot be understood as year in review:

A copy of the year-end review prepared especially for our employees has been enclosed...

Corporation Annual Reports to Shareholders

  • This clears things up a lot. I was under the impression that they were used synonymously in sentences, but that seems not to be the case. However, it seems plausible they they can still be used synonymously in titles like you said.
    – Daba McD
    Commented Dec 7, 2022 at 0:21

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