noun, plural cen·tu·ries.
  1. a period of 100 years.
  2. one of the successive periods of 100 years reckoned forward or backward from a recognized chronological epoch, especially from the assumed date of the birth of Jesus.
  3. any group or collection of 100: a century of limericks.
  4. (in the ancient Roman army) a company, consisting of approximately 100 men.
  5. one of the voting divisions of the ancient Roman people, each division having one vote.
  6. (initial capital letter) Printing. a style of type.
  7. Slang. a hundred-dollar bill; 100 dollars.
  8. Sports. a race of 100 yards or meters, as in track or swimming, or of 100 miles, as in bicycle racing.
  9. Cricket. a score of at least 100 runs made by one batsman in a single inning.

Origin of century

1525–35; < Latin centuria unit made up of 100 parts, especially company of soldiers, equivalent to cent(um) 100 + -uria, perhaps extracted from decuria decury
Related formshalf-cen·tu·ry, noun, plural half·-cen·tu·ries.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for half-century


noun plural -ies
  1. a period of 50 yearsduring the past half-century
    1. a score or grouping of 50a half-century of points
    2. (as modifier)as I near the half-century mark


noun plural -ries
  1. a period of 100 years
  2. 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
  3. (in ancient Rome) a unit of foot soldiers, originally 100 strong, later consisting of 60 to 80 menSee also maniple
  4. (in ancient Rome) a division of the people for purposes of voting
  5. (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

Word Origin and History for half-century



1530s, "one hundred (of anything)," from Latin centuria "group of one hundred" of things of one kind (including a measure of land and a division of the Roman army, one-sixteenth of a legion, headed by a centurion), from centum "hundred" (see hundred) on analogy of decuria "a company of ten."

Used in Middle English from late 14c. as a division of land, from Roman use. The Modern English meaning is attested from 1650s, short for century of years (1620s). The older, general sense is preserved in the meaning "score of 100 points" in cricket and some other sports. Related: Centurial.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with half-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.