Definition of century in English:



  • 1A period of one hundred years.

    ‘a century ago most people walked to work’
    • ‘Little more than a village a century ago, Palm Springs is proud of its snoozy, sun-baked reputation.’
    • ‘We are just continuing a tradition which dates back several centuries.’
    • ‘Tall fescue, a vigorous Old World grass introduced to the New more than a century ago, now reigns over much of this region.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Drawing on Asian traditions that date back centuries, its spa retreats blend romance and serenity with exotic sensuality.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Vietnam has a vibrant literary tradition dating back many centuries.’
    • ‘The Mumbai drainage system was built over a century ago, during the period of British colonial rule.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The house is a condensation of the past, representing how this city has developed from a century ago to the present.’
    • ‘It killed one in seven Americans a little over a century ago, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In China, feudalism, as a social system, collapsed nearly a century ago when the country became a republic in 1911.’
    • ‘That is why it has these ideas dragged up from last century and from two centuries ago.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We have come a long way since 78 rpm records helped usher in the jazz era almost a century ago!’
    1. 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] [as modifier] ‘a twentieth-century lifestyle’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The gory de-horning of the Maral deer is an annual ritual in this isolated part of Siberia and dates from the 17th century.’
      • ‘The fate of ancient, unexcavated Mayan settlements dating from the fifth century also hangs in the balance.’
      • ‘The two statues are generally believed to date from the fifth century but some believe they may be of later origin.’
      • ‘Athens reached its zenith during the fifth century B.C., a period known as its Golden Age.’
      • ‘Bexley dates back to at least the fifth century when it was known as Byxlea, a settlement in a clearing of box trees.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This little house dates from the 15th century and has a traditional chimney.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘By the middle of the eighteenth century, the traditional system of publication was everywhere in shambles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the fifth century Christianity had conquered Paganism, and Paganism had infected Christianity.’
      • ‘The dryness of the region helped explain the fine condition of the textiles, which date from the third century BC.’
      • ‘The earliest scholarly reports of chain letters date to the first decade of the twentieth century and arise periodically.’
      • ‘Archaeologists said the workmen had stumbled upon a Roman cemetery at the edge of a settlement dating from the first century AD.’
      • ‘The collection now includes works dating from the 18th century right up to present day.’
      • ‘Its use as a medium for literary texts, pioneered by the early Christians, dates from the first century ce.’
      • ‘In the third century before Christ's birth, China is a collection of seven warring states that have yet to unite into one country.’
      • ‘It consists of thirteen chapters of the Markandeya Purana which probably dates back to the fifth century of the Christian era.’
      age, time, period, era, epoch, century, decade, year, stage
      View synonyms
  • 2A company in the ancient Roman army, originally of one hundred men.

    • ‘The Legion's NCOs were 60 Centurions, long-serving professional soldiers who each commanded a century of 80 men.’
    • ‘Centurions took their title from the fact that they commanded a century.’
    • ‘He often fought at the right front of his Century.’
    1. 2.1An 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).’
  • 3A bicycle race of one hundred miles.

    [as modifier] ‘the nation's largest single-day century ride’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘Coaches advise that you should be able to do a 75-mile ride before your century.’
    1. 3.1A score of one hundred in a sporting event, such as a cricket match.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His 107 represented the seventh occasion a New Zealand batsman had scored a century on debut.’
      • ‘There have been cricket batsman who scored several centuries in a match.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's not often a batsman gets a century when the opposition has scored only one hundred and sixty five.’
      • ‘Has any batsman scored an unbeaten century in each innings of a Test match and still finished on the losing side?’
      • ‘And he is only one of four batsmen ever to score centuries in four consecutive innings, in 2002.’
      • ‘In a profitable series for batsmen, six different players have scored centuries, which shows the strength of each team's batting line-up.’
      • ‘It was the first time since 1949 that a batsman had scored two centuries against South Africa in a Test match.’
      • ‘Michael Clarke scored a superb century after Australia's pacemen ripped out Pakistan's top order.’
      • ‘One of your recent answers talked about batsmen who have scored centuries against all nine possible Test opponents.’
      • ‘For a full list of batsmen who scored a century on Test debut, click here.’
      • ‘Going by statistics we see that he is among the Indian batsmen to score centuries in both the innings.’
      • ‘Andrew Flintoff has just become the eighth English batsman to score a century this summer.’
      • ‘Syed Mushtaq Ali, the first Indian batsman to score a Test century away from home, has died at 90.’
      • ‘And in their past five tests, the batsmen have scored nine centuries.’
      • ‘Geoff Boycott became the 18th player to score 100 centuries in cricket, and the first to reach the landmark in a Test.’
      • ‘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.’


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


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