Definition of century in English:



  • 1A period of one hundred years.

    ‘a century ago most people walked to work’
    • ‘In bright sunshine, thousands of churchgoers from parishes across Manchester and Salford mingled with Bank Holiday crowds to enjoy a tradition dating back two centuries.’
    • ‘Drawing on Asian traditions that date back centuries, its spa retreats blend romance and serenity with exotic sensuality.’
    • ‘And in the not-too-distant future broadband could have as much effect on the way we live our lives as the introduction of the motor car had a century ago.’
    • ‘The Mumbai drainage system was built over a century ago, during the period of British colonial rule.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In China, feudalism, as a social system, collapsed nearly a century ago when the country became a republic in 1911.’
    • ‘It is a river town in Borneo that is little changed from a century ago when it served as the backdrop for Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim.’
    • ‘Sharing a heavy wooden table with other breakfasters, we felt content knowing we would eat noodles just as the villagers here did a century ago.’
    • ‘Little more than a village a century ago, Palm Springs is proud of its snoozy, sun-baked reputation.’
    • ‘It killed one in seven Americans a little over a century ago, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.’
    • ‘Rowing has a long tradition at both Oxford and Cambridge, dating back centuries.’
    • ‘There are now five living generations in the family, from Mrs Sterling to Honey, whose dates of birth are almost a century apart.’
    • ‘The house is a condensation of the past, representing how this city has developed from a century ago to the present.’
    • ‘Making its first appearance a little over a century ago, the lure of the limerick is such that it has grown to become one of the world's most popular verse forms.’
    • ‘That is why it has these ideas dragged up from last century and from two centuries ago.’
    • ‘Vietnam has a vibrant literary tradition dating back many centuries.’
    • ‘We have come a long way since 78 rpm records helped usher in the jazz era almost a century ago!’
    • ‘So people can say what they want but at the end of the day there is still a huge desire for nostalgia and things of the past and reliving how it was in this country a century ago.’
    • ‘We are just continuing a tradition which dates back several centuries.’
    1. 1.1 A period of a hundred years reckoned from the traditional date of the birth of Christ.
      ‘the fifteenth century’
      as modifier ‘a twentieth-century lifestyle’
      • ‘Archaeologists said the workmen had stumbled upon a Roman cemetery at the edge of a settlement dating from the first century AD.’
      • ‘The gory de-horning of the Maral deer is an annual ritual in this isolated part of Siberia and dates from the 17th century.’
      • ‘Its use as a medium for literary texts, pioneered by the early Christians, dates from the first century ce.’
      • ‘This little house dates from the 15th century and has a traditional chimney.’
      • ‘The collection now includes works dating from the 18th century right up to present day.’
      • ‘It consists of thirteen chapters of the Markandeya Purana which probably dates back to the fifth century of the Christian era.’
      • ‘From the fifth to the fifteenth centuries the dominant power in the area was the Khmer empire, in which various forms of Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism were popular.’
      • ‘The earliest scholarly reports of chain letters date to the first decade of the twentieth century and arise periodically.’
      • ‘The fate of ancient, unexcavated Mayan settlements dating from the fifth century also hangs in the balance.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, the St Francis continued to be considered as a work in the style of Botticelli dating from the last decade of the fifteenth century.’
      • ‘I conclude that in particular the factors which I have just listed in favour of an 18th century date outweigh those which are against it.’
      • ‘In the fifth century Christianity had conquered Paganism, and Paganism had infected Christianity.’
      • ‘The two statues are generally believed to date from the fifth century but some believe they may be of later origin.’
      • ‘Bexley dates back to at least the fifth century when it was known as Byxlea, a settlement in a clearing of box trees.’
      • ‘The dryness of the region helped explain the fine condition of the textiles, which date from the third century BC.’
      • ‘By the middle of the eighteenth century, the traditional system of publication was everywhere in shambles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the third century before Christ's birth, China is a collection of seven warring states that have yet to unite into one country.’
      • ‘Most of the present walls date from the fourth, fifth and eleventh centuries and, although broken in places, it is still possible to walk their four-mile length.’
      • ‘Athens reached its zenith during the fifth century B.C., a period known as its Golden Age.’
      age, time, period, era, epoch, decade, year, stage
      View synonyms
  • 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’
    • ‘It's not often a batsman gets a century when the opposition has scored only one hundred and sixty five.’
    • ‘Whether he knew it, he was on course for a historic achievement, becoming only the seventh batsmen in Test cricket to score centuries both on their first appearance at home and on their debut abroad.’
    • ‘For a full list of batsmen who scored a century on Test debut, click here.’
    • ‘In a profitable series for batsmen, six different players have scored centuries, which shows the strength of each team's batting line-up.’
    • ‘Andrew Flintoff has just become the eighth English batsman to score a century this summer.’
    • ‘Sadly for Jack Hyams, the number refers to his age rather than his score in his latest attempt to be the only batsman to score a century in eight consecutive decades.’
    • ‘Without the injured Henry Olonga the Zimbabweans had little bite to their bowling and two English batsmen scored centuries in the same Test innings for the first time in three years.’
    • ‘Geoff Boycott became the 18th player to score 100 centuries in cricket, and the first to reach the landmark in a Test.’
    • ‘One of your recent answers talked about batsmen who have scored centuries against all nine possible Test opponents.’
    • ‘And in their past five tests, the batsmen have scored nine centuries.’
    • ‘Michael Clarke scored a superb century after Australia's pacemen ripped out Pakistan's top order.’
    • ‘Phil Ryan became yet another batsman to score two centuries against the same opposition when he followed an earlier unbeaten 152 with an undefeated 121.’
    • ‘On that tour he hit 2 centuries and scored 417 runs, leading the run aggregate for the series.’
    • ‘There have been cricket batsman who scored several centuries in a match.’
    • ‘Has any batsman scored an unbeaten century in each innings of a Test match and still finished on the losing side?’
    • ‘Syed Mushtaq Ali, the first Indian batsman to score a Test century away from home, has died at 90.’
    • ‘And he is only one of four batsmen ever to score centuries in four consecutive innings, in 2002.’
    • ‘It was the first time since 1949 that a batsman had scored two centuries against South Africa in a Test match.’
    • ‘Going by statistics we see that he is among the Indian batsmen to score centuries in both the innings.’
    • ‘His 107 represented the seventh occasion a New Zealand batsman had scored a century on debut.’
  • 3A company in the ancient Roman army, originally of a hundred men.

    • ‘The Legion's NCOs were 60 Centurions, long-serving professional soldiers who each commanded a century of 80 men.’
    • ‘He often fought at the right front of his Century.’
    • ‘Centurions took their title from the fact that they commanded a century.’
    1. 3.1 An ancient Roman political division for voting.
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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).’


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. 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.


Late Middle English (in century (sense 3)): from Latin centuria, from centum ‘hundred’. century (sense 1) dates from the early 17th century.