In day to day usage (by which I mean non-scientifically specific), what would you say is the shortest period of time an era could be?

Definitions of the word state:

...a long and distinct period of history with a particular feature or characteristic.

The thought occurred when I came across a text which said "from the World War II era". To me this seems a inaccurate use of the word (being ~6 years), but I can't find anything to backup my assertion that it needs to be longer than this.

  • It's vague on purpose, and can refer to any time period the speaker wishes, as long as it's more than a few days. The size has to be "era-like" (i.e, relatively long) in comparison to other time periods present in the context, but there is no implicit scale. – John Lawler May 7 '14 at 18:11
  • Era seems to me to simply denote a place in time where something significant occurred, regardless of length. If it caused a lot of attention it can be considered an era; such as the reign of a king, technological advancements, styles of art, etc.. It can be however long as you want. (I feel it's used more for emphasis on importance rather than length.) – user73091 May 7 '14 at 18:25
  • @JohnLawler - The mayfly can't have an era? – RyeɃreḁd May 7 '14 at 20:56
  • Relative to other mayflies, maybe. – John Lawler May 7 '14 at 20:57
  • An Era can be as short as you like, although talking about the Era of a coach that is fired after two weeks becomes more ironic than admiring. – Oldcat May 7 '14 at 23:36

Different contexts use the term "era" to refer to different things. Recommended reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Era

It should be noted that "the World War II era" probably doesn't just refer to the years the war was being fought. The years leading up to WW2, and the years after it, are also included in the WW2 era.

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It's very contextual in vernacular use. A geological era can be millions of years. A musical era could be just a few years. A high school girlfriend could define an era of just a few months, as long as the experience was significant.

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