Should you write, “Happy New Year,” “Happy new year,” or “Happy New Year’s”?

It depends on how much happiness you want to impart. If you want to wish someone happiness for the entire year, write, “Happy New Year,” following the entry for “New Year” in Webster’s. But if you’re feeling especially parsimonious about the year ahead and want to wish someone happiness for only the first day of it, you would write, “Happy New Year’s Day,” or “Happy New Year’s” for short, since the name of the holiday in Webster’s is “New Year’s Day.”

The entry in Webster’s does not give us license to abandon commonsense rules about capitalization. When using new year generically and preceding it with an article, lowercase the term: It’s a new year. The audit will begin in the new year.

Works Cited

“New Year, N.” Merriam-Webster Unabridged, 2018, unabridged.merriam-webster.com/collegiate/New%20Year.

“New Year’s Day, N.” Merriam-Webster Unabridged, 2018, unabridged.merriam-webster.com/collegiate/new%20year’s%20day.

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Jennifer Rappaport

Jennifer Rappaport is managing editor of MLA style resources at the Modern Language Association. She received a BA in English and French from Vassar College and an MA in comparative literature from New York University, where she taught expository writing. Before coming to the MLA, she worked as an acquisitions editor at Oxford University Press and as a freelance copyeditor and translator for commercial and academic publishers.