Definition of century in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsɛntʃʊri/

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 a hundred years reckoned from the traditional date of the birth of Christ: the fifteenth century [as modifier]: 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 score of a hundred in a sporting event, especially a batsman’s score of a hundred runs in cricket: he scored the only century of the tour
More 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.
3A company in the ancient Roman army, originally of a 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.
3.1An 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).


1 Strictly speaking, centuries run from 01 to 100, meaning that the new century begins on the first day of the year 01 (i.e. 1 January 1901, 1 January 2001, etc.). In practice and in popular perception, however, the new century is held to begin when the significant digits in the date change, e.g. on 1 January 2000, when 1999 became 2000. 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, 1066 is a date in the 11th century, 1542 is a date in the 16th century, and so on.



Pronunciation: /sɛnˈtjʊərɪəl/
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 (in sense 3): 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

Line breaks: cen|tury

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