02 November 2009

Diary vs. Planner: What Do You Call It?

Recently in a conversation with a British friend, we were discussing what Americans call their diary. She had thought that we call it an engagement book. I have heard that term before, but it’s definitely not the term I use.

In the UK, “diary” seems to be the specific word for your planner calendar, whether it’s a day per page or week to view. (Steve, correct me if I’m wrong!). When someone says they will check their diary, everyone knows what they mean.

For Americans, when we hear “diary” we tend to think of a 13 year old girl writing in her journal, “Dear Diary, I have a crush on blah blah blah…” Actually the word “diary” isn’t used as frequently now, we use the word “journal” to mean the book we write in to record our thoughts.

So, what do we Americans say when we talk about the book we use to schedule our appointments, list our To-Dos, and jot our reminders? Some people call it their daily planner (and The Daily Planner website grabbed this title for easy searching of these types of books). Some say “day planner,” some say “planner.” Some call their book their “agenda” although I don’t hear that very often. Some people call their book their organizer, especially when it is a binder style such as Filofax. We don’t seem to have one word that specifically means our daily calendar book.

Americans, what do you call your diary/ planner/ whatever? I prefer “my Filofax that contains my entire life and functions as my life-reference since I have a terrible memory,” but I usually call it my planner.

(By the way, if you are in the market for a new Filofax, check HERE on The Daily Planner website (or go to TDP, click on Autumn Specials then choose On Sale Planners) for Filofaxes in various sizes including A5, Personal, Mini and Pocket that are 10 and even 20 dollars off, or more such as a mini Topaz half off!!)


  1. I call my filofax, "filo" or "my book"... I have never ever referred to it as a diary, journal or planner.

  2. I'm an American, and I call it either my planner or my calendar. "Diary" over here most definitely refers to a personal journal, but "journal" is the more dignified adult term. What's the old saying--we are two countries separated by a common language?!

  3. Also an American...I refer to my Filofax differently depending on who I'm speaking to.

    On my blog or posting to this one, I call it my Filo (or, if I'm feeling particularly type-A that day I'll refer to it as precisely what it is - "my Eton Personal" or whatever).

    At work I say, "I'll put it in my book" or, "it's in my book" or "let me check my book."

    When speaking to those who know me best, I call the thing "my brain" because, who are we kidding...that's exactly what it is!!

  4. I just asked my wife and she calls her book her "planner" or her "Day-Timer" (even though it's not that brand!)

  5. Yes Laurie, I would say diary. But generally I refer to my Filofax as my Filofax, or my Personal Organiser. (Noting the spelling!)

    I've never heard anyone over this side of the pond refer to their planner.

    A planner here would be like a wall planner, a whole year divided up in to days which you fix on the wall, write on or put stickers on. Such as this: http://www.sascoplanners.com/


  6. Also...
    Bridget Jones's Diary - an American playing the part of an English young woman about town!

    The Diary of Samuel Pepys - http://www.pepysdiary.com/

    So Diary is well used over here!


  7. Hi,I'm neither american nor british, but when I talk about my Filofax with english speaking people, I tend to say either my organiser or agenda.
    In spanish I say 'Agenda' which is the correct term for it.

  8. I think I might have found the answer for the differences...

    Go and look at the Filofax Germany site and see the words used there for organiser and diary. They are in the same order as they are on the US and UK site...


  9. I called it my planner or my Filo. My boyfriend refers to it as The Brick (because it's red and heavy) or Vidya's Brain because he's convinced it's an extension of my brain.

  10. I'm an American and I call it a planner, even though I do little planning on it. Mine is at least one third address book, but I NEVER call it an address book. My calendar is kept on a Palm Pilot, except that device hasn't been called a Pilot in a decade.

    Whatever it is I have a comfortable, and wrong, name for it.

  11. A random thought has just occurred to me... may be we need a Filofax dictionary or glossary.

    In another part of my multi-faceted life, I've been a big fan of Steely Dan, the group from New York. Their song lyrics have for some years always tested my understanding of US expressions and culture....

    That is until I came across the Steely Dan Dictionary:


    And then it all became clear....


  12. I call it my Filofax, or my organizer. I'm in the U.S., and I think people who call it an agenda are being pretentious by using the European term :). It's also common here to use "day-timer" as a generic term, since Day-Timer was one of the earliest brands here (1947). (I don't know what year Filofaxes were first sold in the U.S.)

    On the Filofax USA website, they're called "organizers," but the calendar part is called "diary," in the British tradition.


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