Definition of decade in English:



  • 1A period of ten years.

    ‘he taught at the university for nearly a decade’
    • ‘The early decades of the conflict were characterised by a certain dignity and honour.’
    • ‘Just a few of the signs: Impatient investors now hold onto stocks for only one year, on average, down from nearly two years a decade ago.’
    • ‘It is not just that he has turned 50; it has more to do with the fact that he has been retired from test cricket for eight years, nearly a decade.’
    • ‘He spent the next three decades pursuing a wide range of activities, both professionally and as hobbies.’
    • ‘Young Adam was written almost a decade earlier.’
    • ‘Activists feared attacks would only harm a population already devastated by two decades of war and famine.’
    • ‘The birth rate increased for the third consecutive year following nearly a decade of decline.’
    • ‘Amid the overturned cabinets, he saw decades ' worth of patient records scattered about.’
    • ‘The honour will also be conferred on John Shannon, who retired earlier this year after nearly four decades as chairman of York Civic Trust.’
    • ‘The council decided on a plan of action at its first extraordinary meeting and emergency debate for nearly a decade last month.’
    • ‘After more than a decade at the helm it looks as if his endeavours may at last pay off.’
    • ‘Untangling this problem could take decades of research.’
    • ‘Awarded the CBE in 1994, Rosenthal was one of Britain's most prolific screenwriters in a career spanning more than three decades.’
    • ‘The best model for New York is London, which has contracted out all of its bus services to the private sector every three years for nearly two decades.’
    • ‘Life expectancy edged downward in the decades prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union.’
    • ‘This volume of published material represents work carried out over a period spanning nearly three decades.’
    • ‘Returning to Edinburgh last year after nearly two decades living and working in London, I went through the usual phase of seeing my country in new light, as an outsider.’
    • ‘The software industry is just a few decades old while construction is as old as civilization itself.’
    • ‘His remarkable acting career spanned six decades and scores of movies.’
    • ‘The last serving member from the Battle of Long Tan is retiring from service this month after nearly four decades of military service.’
    1. 1.1A period of ten years beginning with a year ending in 0 (or, by another reckoning, 1)
      ‘the fourth decade of the nineteenth century’
      • ‘This will become obvious by the beginning of the next decade, as the results of the 2010 census begin to rearrange the electoral map.’
      • ‘The 1990s were the decade of the development of self management plans for asthma.’
      • ‘The 1970s represented the beginning of three remarkable decades of expansion in the TSI.’
      • ‘The start of a new decade, century and millennium, the Year 2000 naturally created some collective uneasiness.’
      • ‘The nineties were also a decade of promising new beginnings as new seminaries and schools of theology opened.’
      • ‘The urge to change the world that gnaws at normal people in their late teens and early 20's was taking shape in me around the beginning of my fourth decade.’
      • ‘Even with the decline, the state's hospitals employed more people at the end of the 1990s than at the beginning of the decade.’
      • ‘By the end of the 1990s, 52 countries wound up poorer than at the beginning of the decade, according to the report.’
      • ‘It was the early 1990s, the beginning of a decade of civil war and chaos.’
      • ‘Strike activity remained at relatively high levels during the first two decades of the twentieth century.’
      • ‘Ironically, it was actually an album released at the beginning of the next decade, which perhaps best symbolises this period of change.’
      • ‘‘The Sixties did not start, miraculously, with the beginning of the new decade,’ she says.’
      • ‘During the first two decades of the nineteenth century control of the Cape Colony passed to and fro between Afrikaners and British authorities but rested with the latter.’
      • ‘But this is really just to frame the fact that today's the day; the ending of the past decade and the beginning of the next.’
      • ‘The major mobile phone companies spent billions of pounds at the beginning of the decade to secure licenses enabling them to offer 3G services in the UK.’
      • ‘Due to falling world silver prices during the last decades of the nineteenth century, the silver rupee was depreciated.’
      • ‘Germany had become by far Italy's most important trade partner during the two last decades of the nineteenth century.’
      • ‘There was, for instance, a flurry of concern during the first few decades of the nineteenth century, and another at the dawn of the twentieth.’
      • ‘Throughout the last decades of the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth, scarcely a year passed without violent protest or armed rebellion.’
      • ‘Religion faced its most daunting challenges in the first two decades of the last century.’
      age, time, period, era, epoch, century, decade, year, stage
      View synonyms
  • 2A set, series, or group of ten, in particular.

    • ‘Most of Eastern Europe was about to enter four decades of Stalinist dictatorship and incompetence.’
    • ‘The Government is investing considerable resources in the transport infrastructure following decades of under-investment.’
    1. 2.1Each of the five divisions of each chapter of the rosary.
      • ‘For me this has ranged from two Hail Mary prayers right up to five decades of the rosary (which takes me about fifteen to twenty minutes).’
      • ‘Pilgrims returning from the monastery at Mount Melleray have been known to stop and say a decade of the rosary for the departed.’
      • ‘Then maybe a small group would join hands in a circle in prayer and somebody would begin a decade of the rosary.’
      • ‘Neighbours and friends who visited Pamela's home yesterday recited prayers and a decade of the rosary in a bid to quieten the restless spirit.’
      • ‘Prayers at the graveside were recited by Fr. Cooney, who also led the large congregation in a decade of the Rosary.’


Note that when decade means ‘a division of the rosary,’ the pronunciation is distinct: the stress is on dec-, but the second syllable sounds like id, not ade


Late Middle English (denoting each of ten parts of a literary work): via Old French and late Latin from Greek deka ten decade dates from the early 17th century.