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The "aughts" is one way of referring to the first decade of a century, in American English, such as 2000s (decade). In modern history, the naming of the first decade of the 1900s and the first decade of the 2000s presented a problem for societies that had grown accustomed to referring to prior decades as "the nineties" and "the eighties".[1][2][3][4][5][6]


There are several main varieties of how individual years of the decade are pronounced in American English. Using 1906 as an example, they are "nineteen-oh-six", "nineteen-six", and "nineteen-aught-six". Which variety is most prominent depends somewhat on global region and generation. In American English, "nineteen-oh-six" is the most common; "nineteen-six" is less common; "nineteen-aught-six" is recognized but not much used.


In the English-speaking world, a name for the decade was never universally accepted in the same manner as for decades such as the eighties, the nineties, etc.[2][1][6]

Orthographically, the decade can be written as the "2000s" or the "'00s". Some people read "2000s" as "two-thousands", and thus simply refer to the decade as the "Two-Thousands", the "Twenty Hundreds", or the "Twenty-ohs". Some read it as the "00s" (pronounced "Ohs", "Oh Ohs", "Double Ohs" or "Ooze"), while others referred to it as the "Zeros".[1][3]

On January 1, 2000, the BBC listed the noughties (derived from "nought"[7] a word used for zero in many English-speaking countries), as a potential moniker for the new decade.[5] This has become a common name for the decade in the UK[8][9][10][11][12] and New Zealand and Australia,[13][14] as well as other Anglospheric countries. However this has not become the universal descriptor because as Douglas Coupland pointed out early in the decade "[Noughties] won't work because in America the word 'nought' is never used for zero, never ever".[15]

Others have advocated the term "the aughts", a term widely used in North America at the beginning of the 20th century for its first decade.[16][17] The American Dialect Society holds a lighthearted annual poll for word of the year and related subcategories. For 2009, the winner in the "least likely to succeed" category was "Any name of the decade 2000–2009, such as: Noughties, Aughties, Oughties, etc."[18]

When the "20-" is dropped, the individual years within the decade are usually referred to as starting with an "oh", such as "oh-seven" to refer to the year 2007. The option "aught-seven", for whatever reason, has never caught on idiomatically for the 2000s decade like it did a century earlier for the 1900s decade. When the "20-" is retained, three options are available in speech, all of which have idiomatic currency: "two thousand seven", "two thousand and seven" (the most common option in the UK and USA), or "twenty-oh-seven". During the 2000s decade, it was more common to hear the first two patterns than the last. For example, during that decade the 9/11 attacks were much more commonly spoken of as occurring in "two thousand (and) one" than in "twenty-oh-one", although the latter was not unidiomatic; whereas, by the 2010s, people grew used to hearing the "twenty-" prefix in speech more often. Under this influence, it became a bit more common to refer to the individual years of the decade as "twenty-oh-seven" or "twenty-oh-eight" than it had been during the 2000s. In the late twentieth century there had been a well established norm of the "thousand" pronunciations in such phrases such as "by the year two thousand" (i.e., by the big round millennial milestone, such-and-such prediction will be true) and the movie title 2001: A Space Odyssey, which sounded distinctly futuristic in those decades.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Why can't we name this decade?". November 30, 2009. Archived from the original on 2013-12-15. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Hitchings, Leah (December 8, 2000). "Even with 10 years to decide, still no name for the decade". Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Washington Examiner, December 1, 2009; modified March 16, 2012. Say, goodbye to the aughts, zeros, 2000s, whatever. retrieved March 1, 2013. Archived April 12, 2013, at
  4. ^ "What Do You Call It?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-04-22.
  5. ^ a b "The noughties: So where are we now?". BBC News. January 1, 2000. Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved April 21, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Rohrer, Finlo (December 31, 2009). "Decade dilemma". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2013-12-14. Retrieved April 21, 2010.
  7. ^ "Complete Definition of "noughties"". August 14, 2007. Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  8. ^ Hill, Dave (March 29, 2011). "Olympic hockey and Leyton Orient: the astroturf connection". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 2012-05-26. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  9. ^ McCormick, Neil (September 18, 2009). "100 songs that defined the Noughties". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 2014-05-13. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  10. ^ Tedmanson, Sophie (October 20, 2009). "The Noughties year by year". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 2011-08-18. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  11. ^ Tremlett, Giles (March 28, 2011). "At-a-glance guide to Spain". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 2012-05-29. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  12. ^ Bowers, Simon (March 23, 2011). "Budget 2011: Chancellor moves to close online VAT loophole". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 2013-02-06. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  13. ^ Stewart, Cameron (December 26, 2009). "The roaring noughties". The Australian. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  14. ^ Huxley, John (December 26, 2009). "Never so good". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 2012-11-05. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  15. ^ Rohrer, Finlo (31 December 2009). "Decade dilemma". BBC News.
  16. ^ Noah, Timothy (December 27, 2004). "Name That Decade". Archived from the original on 2011-08-19. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  17. ^ Irwin, Neil (January 2, 2010). "Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy, workers". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  18. ^ Barrett, Grant; Ben Zimmer; David K. Barnhart (January 8, 2010). ""Tweet" 2009 Word of the Year, "Google" Word of the Decade, as voted by American Dialect Society" (PDF) (Press release). American Dialect Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-24. Retrieved January 18, 2010.