• 80s: the "Eighties"
  • 90s: the "Nineties"
  • 00s: the ???

For that matter, what is the second decade called? The "tens" just doesn't sound right.

  • You might have a look at the answers to this essentially identical question which was asked yesterday: english.stackexchange.com/questions/941/nineteen-hundreds
    – Chris
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 19:13
  • 2
    That one appears to be about the previous century, whereas I am asking specifically about about decades as they are named in any century.
    – Chris Noe
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 0:48
  • @Chris: it's now the second time someone has repeated one of my questions. Copycatting to get votes?
    – delete
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 0:51
  • I just want to know what to call the last ten years!
    – OneProton
    Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 19:55
  • 1
    What surprises me is that, starting with the year 2010, English-speaking people didn't switch over to saying "twenty ten" instead of "two thousand ten." After all, the common way to say the year "1066" is "ten sixty-six", isn't it? In 2066, will our descendants be referring to the new year as "two thousand sixty-six"? Or will that form not occur until the 22nd century forces "twenty-one oh one" on the populace in preference to "two thousand one hundred one," and people accustomed to saying "twenty-one XX" eventually back-form "twenty thirteen" and the like?
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 22:59

15 Answers 15


Those living in early twentieth century called the years 1900-1909 "The Aughts".

This Wikipedia article provides some more context.

  • 3
    The Wikipedia article says something different from what you've said and gives no proof or evidence of its "aught" statement.
    – delete
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 4:06
  • From Wikipedia: "The aughts", or "naughts" was one of the more popular contemporary terms for this decade.
    – Portman
    Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 18:33
  • 1
    it gives no proof or evidence of that.
    – delete
    Commented Sep 3, 2010 at 4:16
  • Are unsubstantiated opinions more common on english.se or on Wikipedia?
    – GEdgar
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 17:19
  • 2
    My grandfather always spoke of the year he was born as "nineteen-aught-three." In my generation, though, we called it "nineteen-oh-three." Interestingly, no one answering this question has suggested calling the first decade of a century "The O's."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 21:31

I've heard "the noughties" (easy transition from "nineties") and "the two-thousands" (literal interpretation of "2000s") for the decade just gone. I think this is something that doesn't have a real answer as it appears to change with each century and is different depending on your location.

Wikipedia's entry for the 2000s echoes this inability for people to come up with a single name for this decade let alone all "first decades of a century".


In my circle I have usually heard the previous decade referred to as "the two-thousands". As to whether it might be called that in 30 years or so, it's hard to tell. I agree that "the tens" sounds weird, but isn't that because you'd say "the teens" instead?


The "Noughties" became a fairly standard term pretty quickly, at least in the UK. But I've still yet to hear anyone give a good term for the decade from 2010-2019.

If I had to guess what term is most likely to emerge for 2010-2019, I'd say perhaps "The Teens", but I suspect actually no term will catch on until the Twenty-Twenties.

  • 1
    Is there any pronunciation difference between "noughties" and "naughties"?
    – mmyers
    Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 16:08
  • 1
    No. There was a phrase some magazines used, "the Naughty Noughties", which has the first and second word pronounced identically apart from the final "z". That phrase still has 20k Google hits, actually.
    – AlexC
    Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 16:21
  • In that case, it seems that it would be awkward to use in conversation.
    – mmyers
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 4:16
  • 2
    I'd probably say "the twenty tens" for 2010-2019 myself.
    – Joe Z.
    Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 5:59

I can only think of "the single digits" to call the first nine years of the new millennium.


I usually hear the decade of 2000 through 2010 referred to as the two thousands. But the year 2000 is really the last year of the 1990s. For consistency the decade 2001-2010 should be referred to as the 20 zeroes and this decade 2011-2020 is the 20 tens. Like every other decade we just say the number with the zero and add an s.

  • "2000 is really the last year of the 1990s" Isn't that like saying 1980 is the last year of the 70's? I disagree.
    – n8bar
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 21:30
  • @n8bar: Yes, it is. This oddity exists due to there not being a year zero, so the first decade AD is the years 1-10, not 0-9. Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 23:07

I will offer the correct answer.

Quite simply, for the two decades 2000-2010, and also 2010-2020 (the current decade),

in fact there is no popular slang term.

There were attempts to popularise "naughties" but it never caught on.

Regarding back in 1900-1920. I have not been able to find any clear reference on the issue.


The first ten years of any century could accurately be referred to as the 'singular', or 'unit', years, as opposed to those of double digits that follow. That would be a designation consistent with the linear principles of fundamental mathematics, no?


Fot the current century, I would propose:

two thousand zeroes

My reason being, I think most people would understand what you meant. (because of its recentness) However Im not so sure it would work for the first decade of a century in general. i.e.

in the fifteen zeroes davinci focused his attention on developing military machines for his patrons.

Its a little more ambiguous, but maybe understandable...

  • how about the twenty zeroes?
    – n8bar
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 21:32

FWIW, this period has been called the 'Zeroes' by a Dutch radio station:

The first decennium of this century is described as the 'Zeroes'. It concerns the first ten years of this millennium.


Generally I've never heard anybody refer to the "2000's" as anything other than the decade. Usually if we want to refer to the century 2000's, we'll say "the 21st century".


What would you call the 1st century of a millennium?

What do you call the 1st century of an oncoming age? e.g., the 1st century of Islam.

Or, the first decade of Islam.

If I am to write a story or a comprehensive paper on a subject, I would use the terms

  • the dawn of the century
  • the dawn of the millennium.
  • the dawn of human existence.
  • the dawn of Islam.

However, dawn is a very unspecific term. To be more precise, I would use

  • the dawning-century of Islam.
  • the dawning-millennium of Capitalism.
  • the dawning-decade of the century.

There is no good word or usage, so we must make one up, which is how most every word or usage started at some point in history.

How about the primary decade or in the primes, if you don't want it to get the word confused with an election primary/primaries. Primary, of course, is taken from primary numbers 1 through 10. It also is logical enough to be immediately understood.

I'm going to start using it! Bet everyone "gets" it.


The first decade of the the 21st century, and of any century, is the "O's"

  • Do you have an actual reference for that so that we can know you aren’t just making it up? Furthermore, it seems unworkable given that the first decade of the 21st century ran from 2001–2010; that is, its final year was the year 2010.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 23:04

I would call 1900-1909 the nineteen hundreds. This usage seems to have been corrupted though.

  • 8
    I would have said that the "nineteen hundreds" refers to the entire century, not the first decade of it. Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 8:44
  • As I mentioned, the usage seems to have been corrupted.
    – delete
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 0:40
  • Corrupted? Or corrected? I've yet to see evidence of its use only as the first 10 years. Surely, if I were to say "Some feel the dark ages started in the twelve-hundreds" it wouldn't be so limited.
    – OneProton
    Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 19:54
  • Hum, lack of education on your parts, I think.
    – delete
    Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 21:59

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