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End of a decade?

A decade? You guessed it – something to do with 10. Several words with “dec” relate to 10, coming from the Greek “deka” for “ten”. A decapod is an animal with 10 legs. A decahedron is a solid with 10 surfaces. A decathlon is an athletic contests with 10 events. Even December – it’s the 10th month (of the ancient Roman year, before they interfered with it). Decimal – no explanation needed. The verb decimate, which popularly means to kill or destroy a large quantity, also has the original meaning: “to kill one person in 10”. And decade? A group of 10, or a group of 10 years. So in 2016 I could say, for example, “I predict that during the next decade aliens will arrive on Earth”, meaning that aliens would arrive between 2017 and 2026. However, “decade” also has another sense (rather like century for 100 years or millennium for 1000 years) – a specific block of 10 years officially starting with a year ending in the number 1: 2001-2011, 2011-2021 etc. If you think about it this makes sense, because the first year was the year 1. There was no year zero. (There were years before the year 1, but that’s another story.) The first decade (CE) therefore ran from year 1 to year 10. But you may have seen references today or recently (on TV or in the press etc) to the “end of the decade”, or “how the stock markets will finish this decade” – even though we are still in the year 2009, not 2010. This recalls the great debate about millennia and centuries. The fact is that popular usage has each decade starting with a year ending in the number zero. So by popular demand we are about to enter the 2nd decade of the 21st century (of the 3rd millennium).

12 Responses to “End of a decade?”

  1. nadira says:

    interesting thankyou

  2. Shahrzad says:

    Thanks a bunch, it is so interesting, I never notice to these deca… word before

  3. salim says:

    Your articles are always enriching,what i liked more is this part “I predict that during the next decade aliens will arrive on Earth” ha ha ha.

  4. Christine Beckman says:

    Thank you for this article about deca-words. However, I am wondering what to call the years 2000-2009. When we talk about the 1960ies we all know what we mean. I have never heard what to call 1900-1909 eithers. Was “the tens” ever used in analogy?

    Grateful for any tips on this.


  5. panggih says:

    I am interesting in your article. It can richen my english vocabularies.

  6. Hamid says:

    We’re really in need of someone like you to open oue eyes upon sth.that we go through without paying attention to it. therefore, when we read it in details in some article we feel how ignorant we are.
    thx for the interestin information!!!!!!!!

  7. cesard says:

    So, the current decade started at the beginning of the first second of the year 2001 (00h. 00min. 00sec.) and will finish -hopefully- at the end of the last second of the year 2010 (23h.59min. 59sec.) Anyway, at this rate, the way things are going,the blue planet extinction is just arround the corner.

  8. abbas says:

    very stimulating

  9. Ruzan says:

    May 2010, and the new decade, bring the peace in the world.
    Your articles are always interesting:-)

  10. Hamed says:

    Thank you , realy it’s nice .I hope the world became better in the new decade and be beace with every singe persons live savely.

  11. subash says:

    It’s really very intersting article,thanx Kristin,Joe & AJ.

  12. Boosha says:

    We’re people our needs vary from one to another but we share in one thing(peace,freedom) to fulfil our needs. 2010 as I wrote above if peace been available for everyone I think we don’t predict for our future just we do our work,invention,creation peacefully.

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