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During a meeting I was explaining a problem that only occurs once year: when one year ends and new one begins. Specifically during the first few days of the new year. Unfortunately, I was lost for words to describe the phenomenon, and, in the midst of stuttering, uttered, "Well the problem only happens during year turning, umm, well when 2010 became 2011..umm.." I got my point across, with mild sense of embarrassment, considering that a fairly large audience was attentively listening to my poorly formed narrative (I'd better stop now with this extraneous information).

What is the best way to describe what I was trying to telegraph --that is, the issue only occurring during the turn of the year?

7 Answers 7

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The phrase in your question is good:

The issue only occurs at the turn of the year

(if it only happens at the moment the year changes), or perhaps

The issue only occurs around the turn of the year

(if it happens for a longer time period)

Or you can paraphrase:

The issue only happens when the year changes from 2010 to 2011

(though that might imply it only happened in those specific years), or

The issue only happens in the first few (hours, days) of January

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You could use the term year-end, which refers to the period at the end of the year, as in year-end awards, year-end sales, year-end charitable giving, and in your case, a year-end problem, e.g. a problem that occurs at year-end.

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I think simply saying the problem only happens at the start of the year would be enough. Presumably, as you continue to describe why the problem occurs people will understand it is because the year changed.

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Think a new word or term might have to be coined for that one. 'Trans-annual' perhaps? It sounds suitably like 'management speak' anyway: 'How many people shall we lay off in the trans-annual period?'

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How about "The problem only happens at New Year"?

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  • This is the simplest and best answer so far.
    – Tristan
    Sep 18, 2013 at 11:48
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At "the turn of the year" is the only one of these answers which actually fits precisely this situation. Some languages have a single word for this concept (eg Swedish årsskifte) but most, like English, only have a word or phrase for 'year's end' or 'New Year', which are not quite the same things.

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"At the turn of the year" is acceptable. I certainly understood what you were saying. As someone else mentioned, "turn of the century" is used often in English but just because "turn of the year" isn't used often doesn't mean that people won't clearly understand the point you are making.

I might have said "the problem only occurs each year during the month of [blank]" or "the problem only occurs in the last week of December and first week of January in the new year" BUT I like "turn of the year" much better...rolls of the tongue better and cuts to the point. My opinion.

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