Aught to Be

December 22, 2009 @ 9:15 pm | Filed under:

The other day, Scott pointed out that we, all of us, haven’t yet settled upon a name for this decade. You know, like the Eighties, the Nineties, and so forth. I remember speculating about this in 1999, wondering if the decade-about-to-dawn would be called the Aughts like the first decade of the 20th century. It seemed too quaint to be possible—and too quaint it must have been indeed, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use “the Aughts” this time around.

In 1999 my HarperCollins editor was going over publishing schedules with me, and she referred to the year 2002 as “2K2.” Evidently that’s how they were referring to the dates of the new century there, at that time, for a while. I don’t think it stuck. (I should ask.) I remember telling Scott about it after I got off phone and saying, “Do you think that’s what we’ll all say, instead of Two Thousand and Two?”

We didn’t. Whew.

But what are we going to say ten years from now, when the Teens are winding down? “Twitter? It came along in the Aughts.” The Os? The Zeros?

Ha, I just looked up “Aughts” to make sure I was spelling it right and it seems there’s a Wikipedia entry on this very topic. Wikipedia suggests we’ll be calling this decade “the 2000s.” That just seems silly to me. Speaking of silly, this line made me laugh:

“Unlike previous decades such as ‘The Fifties,’ ‘The Seventies,’ and ‘The Nineties,’ the 2000s never attained a universally accepted name in the English-speaking world.”

Seem a bit presumptuous to you? The decade’s not over yet and we’re already declaring it “never attained a universally accepted name”? Surely once a little time has passed we’ll settle upon a way to talk about this crazy, tumultuous span of years. Wikipedia says, and Scott mentioned this too, that some wags have suggested we call it the Noughts or the Noughties to reflect both the zeroes in the digits and the tanking economy. I can see that taking off in the UK but my guess is we Americans will wind up saying the Os. Or do I mean the Ohs?

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10 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Kathryn says:

    Noughties (or Naughties) has already become common parlance in the UK. I didn’t realise that it hadn’t caught on across the pond.

  2. Melissa Wiley says:

    Kathryn, no kidding! I didn’t know the UK had settled into a name. Somehow I don’t see the Noughties taking off over here—I’m not sure the majority of Americans even knows the word “nought” anymore. It’s never used. Except around here, most often by Scott in a Patrick Stewart Shakespearian booming voice.

  3. MelanieB says:

    Interesting discussion. I like the “Noughties” too bad that it probably won’t catch on here. Maybe we can start campaigning for it, Lissa. Get a movement started.

  4. Penny in VT says:

    How about the “uh-ohs”?

    Kidding, people, just kidding…

    lol, Happy Christmas!

  5. MicheleQ says:

    Yeah, I don’t see Noughties taking off here –too many clueless people on that one.

    Can’t really say i have a name for them either, I’ll have to think about that some more.

    Merry (almost) Christmas Lissa!

  6. AJ says:

    I like the Aughts, but I’m the only person I know who used the word. I’m guessing a new phrase, more than one word, will be developed that is based on events in the decade. Are decade designations a sort of colloquial term, differing by country?

  7. mamacrow says:

    it’s been the ‘noughties’ since day one in my part of the uk… never even occured to me that america wouldn’t follow suit!

    what I want to know is, what’s the next decade gonna be called?!

  8. Hannah says:

    My dear husband obsesses (well, maybe that’s too extreme) about this very subject!

  9. Rachael says:

    Also called the “noughties” over here in Australia.

  10. G.Chen says:

    There was an article in time magazine about this! maybe just the thousands? or james bond – the double ohs ?

    There was a bit about the next decade too. For 2010’s I really like the tenties and the one-ders 🙂

    and what will we do when we get back to the same decades? the twenties(2)?