Difference Between A.D./B.C. And C.E./B.C.E. [EXPLAINED]

AD or A.D. stands for Anno Domini and is a label for numbering years after Christ was born. BC or B.C. means Before Christ. The year Christ was born is considered AD 1 and the year before that is labeled 1 BC. Historians use a nomenclature with less religious connotation: namely CE/BCE where CE means “Common Era” and BCE stands for Before Common Era. Although the labels used are different, BC and BCE are the same and so are AD and CE. This system of numbering years was invented by Dionysius Exiguus in AD 525 and is used in the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

Comparison chart

AD versus BC comparison chart
Stands for
Anno Domini (Latin for Year of our Lord) Before Christ
Also known as
CE (Common Era) BCE (Before Common Era)
Writing style
AD 2013 45 BC

What is A.D.?

AD stands for Anno Domini, which is Latin for “Year of our Lord,” and is used to number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. AD denotes the calendar era after the birth of Jesus Christ. The traditionally accepted year of Christ’s birth is labeled AD 1 and the year before is 1 BC. This calendaring system was devised in AD 525, but was not widely used until after AD 800. An alternative for AD is CE, which stands for Common Era, ChristianEra or Current Era.

What is B.C.?

B.C. stands for Before Christ, and it means the number of years before the time of Jesus Christ. The use of B.C. is believed to originate with Bede in the 8th century (AD). The Latin version is “ante vero incarnationis dominicae tempus” (“the time before the Lord’s true incarnation”), equivalent to the English term “before Christ” which was used by Dionysius Exiguus.

Numbering scheme

In the Common Era (CE or AD), the years are numbered in chronological order i.e. the year AD 401 followed the year AD 400. However, in the BC or BCE era, the years are numbered in the reverse order i.e. the year 300 BC followed the year 301 BC.

Did you know?

  • The Hebrew calendar considers the year 3760 BC as year 1.
  • In the Islamic calendar, the year 622 AD is year 1 because Prophet Mohammed embarked on a holy journey in that year.
  • Buddha died over 400 years before Christ was born.
  • While AD 1 is when Christ was believed to have been born when this system was invented, historians now believe that Christ was actually born between 7 BC and 4 BC.


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