[ sen-chuh-ree ]
/ ˈsɛn tʃə ri /
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See synonyms for: century / centuries on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural cen·tu·ries.
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Origin of century

First recorded in 1525–35; from Latin centuria “unit made up of 100 parts (especially a company of soldiers),” equivalent to cent(um) “hundred” + -uria, perhaps extracted from decuria “a division of 10 men”; see decury

historical usage of century

The first sense of century in contemporary English is “(period of) 100 years,” a meaning that did not exist in Latin centuria. (The Latin for “period of 100 years” is saeculum, which had other meanings as well, e.g., “cohort of individuals born at a particular time, generation, succession of generations, the present time, current generation.” The Latin adjective derived from saeculum is saeculāris, English secular. ) Centuria means “Roman military unit nominally comprising 100 soldiers (but usually between 60 and 80); voting unit of 100 Roman citizens in the comitia centuriāta (this assembly elected the chief magistrates); a unit of land usually consisting of 100 hērēdia (each hērēdium “estate” comprises 200 jugera, each jugerum measuring about three fifths of an acre).”
The sense “period of 100 years” first appeared in the late 16th century, in early use sometimes in the phrase century of years. The slang sense “100 dollars, 100 pounds” appeared all but simultaneously in the United States (1859) and the United Kingdom (1860). The American slang term century note dates to 1905, and its abbreviated form C-note dates to 1929. The bicycling sense “race of 100 miles or kilometers” dates to the 1880s.


half-cen·tu·ry, noun, plural half·-cen·tu·ries.

Other definitions for century (2 of 2)

[ sen-chuh-ree ]
/ ˈsɛn tʃə ri /

a combining form of century, affixed to the number that specifies the 100-year span cited, and used only as an adjective: 19th-century American literature;a collection of 6th-century metal sculptures that was stolen in the late 20th century.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use century in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for century

/ (ˈsɛntʃərɪ) /

noun plural -ries
a period of 100 years
one of the successive periods of 100 years dated before or after an epoch or event, esp the birth of Christ
  1. a score or grouping of 100to score a century in cricket
  2. mainly US (as modifier)the basketball team passed the century mark in their last game
(in ancient Rome) a unit of foot soldiers, originally 100 strong, later consisting of 60 to 80 menSee also maniple
(in ancient Rome) a division of the people for purposes of voting
(often capital) a style of type

Word Origin for century

C16: from Latin centuria, from centum hundred
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with century


see turn of the century.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.