Definition of century in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsen(t)SH(ə)rē/

noun (plural centuries)

1A period of one hundred years: a century ago most people walked to work
More example sentences
  • Visitors to the Castle Museum will be able to discover more about the building's grim past centuries ago when it served as a debtors' prison.
  • Tall fescue, a vigorous Old World grass introduced to the New more than a century ago, now reigns over much of this region.
  • It killed one in seven Americans a little over a century ago, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
1.1A period of one hundred years reckoned from the traditional date of the birth of Jesus Christ: the fifteenth century [as modifier, in combination]: (-century) a twentieth-century lifestyle
More example sentences
  • In the third century before Christ's birth, China is a collection of seven warring states that have yet to unite into one country.
  • This little house dates from the 15th century and has a traditional chimney.
  • The cross bow loops in the south wall are similar to an example in the west wall of Whites Castle and may be dated to the fifteenth century.
2A company in the ancient Roman army, originally of one hundred men.
Example sentences
  • Centurions took their title from the fact that they commanded a century.
  • He often fought at the right front of his Century.
  • The Legion's NCOs were 60 Centurions, long-serving professional soldiers who each commanded a century of 80 men.
2.1An ancient Roman political division for voting.
Example sentences
  • The Comitia Centuriata (Centuriate Committee) included both patricians and plebeians organized into five economic Classes (knights and senators being the First Class) and distributed among internal divisions called Centuries.
  • Membership in the Centuriate Committee required certain economic status, and power was heavily vested in the first eighteen Centuries; the Centuriate Committee was dominated by the First and Second Classes.
  • The 193 centuries were determined by wealth, and the richest centuries were also the smallest, so individual votes in these counted more heavily (when a majority of the 193 votes was reached, voting was stopped, so some of the largest centuries rarely got to cast votes).
3A bicycle race of one hundred miles: [as modifier]: the nation’s largest single-day century ride
More example sentences
  • Coaches advise that you should be able to do a 75-mile ride before your century.
  • Now, grinding into the last 14 miles of the century ride, that advice is coming back to me.
  • I rode my first century a few years back and actually wrote a little ride report (which I am including here).
3.1A score of one hundred in a sporting event, such as a cricket match.
Example sentences
  • Has any batsman scored an unbeaten century in each innings of a Test match and still finished on the losing side?
  • One of your recent answers talked about batsmen who have scored centuries against all nine possible Test opponents.
  • And he is only one of four batsmen ever to score centuries in four consecutive innings, in 2002.


1 In contemporary use, a century is popularly calculated as beginning in a year that ends with ‘00,’ whereas the traditional system designates the ‘00’ year as the final year of a century. This discrepancy was particularly apparent on January 1, 2000, which was commercially celebrated worldwide as the first day of the 21st century, even though January 1, 2001, was regarded as the more proper date for this milestone. 2 Since the 1st century ran from the year 1 to the year 100, the ordinal number (i.e., second, third, fourth, etc.) used to denote the century will always be one digit higher than the corresponding cardinal digit(s). Thus, 1492 is a date in the 15th century, 1776 is in the 18th century, and so on.



Pronunciation: /senˈt(y)o͝orēəl/
Example sentences
  • According to the Gregorian calendar, which is the civil calendar in use today, years evenly divisible by 4 are leap years, with the exception of centurial years that are not evenly divisible by 400.
  • We argue that this behavior of cycle 23 might be a signal for an upcoming centurial solar minimum.
  • I shall make seven suggestions, drawn from and keyed to the seven centurial tendencies I have sketched out.


Late Middle English (sense 2): from Latin centuria, from centum 'hundred'. sense 1 dates from the early 17th century.

  • In Latin centuria (from centum ‘hundred’) was used to refer to a group of 100, particularly a company in the ancient Roman army, made up of 100 men. Early usage of the English word carried the meaning ‘a hundred’, as in Shakespeare's ‘a century of prayers’ in Cymbeline. The ‘100 years’ sense dates from the early 17th century, when it was used as a shortened form of the phrase ‘a century of years’. A batsman who scores a century in cricket, a hundred runs, perpetuates the older sense. See also hundred

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cen·tu·ry

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