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The Decade Definition

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The Decade Definition

My friend Rick has a major pet peeve that’s only making him madder in this final week of 2009:  everyone’s continued misuse of the term decade, as in “the top _______ of the decade.”

As Rick correctly points out, the end of 2009 is not the end of this decade: next December 31 will officially end the decade.  This is because the very first decade included years 1 AD through 10 AD.  Year 11 was the second decade of the millennium, just as 2011 will be the first year of the second decade of this current millennium in which we find ourselves.

It could always be argued, of course, that a decade could be any set of ten consecutive years, so it’s entirely possible that toward the end of 2011, for example, we might talk about the biggest homeland security advances within the decade since September 11th.

But it doesn’t appear that most usages of decade are really using this kind of logic.

So for Rick’s sake, please get it right.  And have a happy final year of the current decade!

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11 Comments on "The Decade Definition"

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Charlie
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There’s no sane reason to require decades to be referred all the way to year zero. The millenium, sure, because it is referencing year zero. But decades do not, they are commonly referred to as 0-9. (1990s, 1980s). They are NEVER referred to as 1981-1990, etc. So this is foolishness in my opinion.

paul
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It really pisses me off when Rick gets pissed off about me being pissed off about him being…wait, I’ve lost track.

Rick
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Another pet peeve of mine is people getting uppity about my pet peeves……….

paul
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However, when we talk about decades, we talk about the 80s, or the 90s…we don’t talk about ’91 to 2000, or 1921 to 1930. And, while Rick may be technically correct, it is important to remember that the numbering system we use for years is completely arbitrary, made up by a Pope several centuries ago. As well, there never really was a “year one,” except retroactively. At the time, it was called 3761, by the Hebrew calendar.

Dave H
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Call me a stickler, call me tedious, but the Decade of the “Aughts” started January 1, 2001, and will end December 31, 2010. “What?” you say; but the whole world recognizes the end of 2009 as the end of this Decade. Obviously, that’s true. Just look. Google “end of decade” and you will find about 30,400,000 hits, the first 10 of which (I didn’t look any further) discussing the every-so-fascinating subject of what happened, what went right, what went wrong, what it all meant, in the “Decade” that ended December 31, 2009. If you Google “end of decade definition,” you… Read more »
Mika Salakka
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What a year it was too, that 3760. I remember it like yesterday. Going from 3760 to 1 was a real brain twister. Makes setting the clocks back and forth due to Daylight Savings seem like no big deal at all, in comparison. As for Rick’s dilemma, I understand where he’s coming from, but while I’m all for getting things right, this is one area where it’s always seemed kind of superfluous to get huffy and puffy about accuracy. A decade ago, I was irritated to no end by the rocket scientists who went around proclaiming how December 31st of… Read more »
Rick
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Thanks so much. I’m more perturbed than anything 🙂

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