the aughts? the naughts? the turn of the century?
August 10, 2018 11:26 AM   Subscribe

What do people call the 00s as a decade, now that they're part of the historical record?

I have to give a presentation and it involves a reference to the '00s. I still have not figured out what to call this godforsaken decade.

Someone asked this in 2006 on AskMeFi and no one knew. I'm curious what people have to say about it now. The aughts sounds... not like a real word?

What do you say?

I'm especially curious for anyone who is using a term for that decade in a professional (or quasi-professional) capacity.

posted by zebrabananafish to Writing & Language (40 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"The early two thousands" is all I've heard, at least recently.
posted by komara at 11:28 AM on August 10, 2018 [11 favorites]

I hear aughts and 2000s relatively interchangeably. I think the former is clearer, but it does have an air of superiority.
posted by General Malaise at 11:28 AM on August 10, 2018

I definitely say aughts, but it always comes out slightly ironically, even though I don't mean it as such. I like the term and wanted it to be a thing during the aughts themselves. Then again, I was an idiot young person in the aughts so maybe I should revisit that conviction.
posted by Mizu at 11:32 AM on August 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think it ought to be the aughts, but as Mizu said, it's hard not to make that sound pretentious. I'd go with "the first decade of this century," especially if it is for a presentation.
posted by etc. at 11:45 AM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

You can also just say "The first decade of the 2000s." It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue but it's clearest.

The 2010s are also fairly difficult? the Twenty-tens? Tens? Teens? Ugh.
posted by vunder at 11:47 AM on August 10, 2018

The 2000s. I like turn of the century as well because it amuses me to call The Strokes a turn of the century band.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:50 AM on August 10, 2018 [8 favorites]

I say aughts but I mostly hear and accept "the 2000s". And yeah, not sure what to call this current decade.
posted by greta simone at 11:55 AM on August 10, 2018

I've seen "the 2000s" most commonly. It's a little awkward because that could mean the whole century, but people seem to grok that it means the decade from context.
posted by lunasol at 11:55 AM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

If I heard a story that starts "back in aught six...." I'm not thinking 2006.
posted by TheAdamist at 12:09 PM on August 10, 2018 [7 favorites]

“Aughts” makes me think of the turn of the previous century, perhaps because of The Music Man (Harold Hill claims to be a graduate of the Gary Conservatory of Music, gold-medal class of aught-five.) I think the early two-thousands sounds more up-to-date.
posted by elphaba at 12:09 PM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Generally use "the 2000s." However, this may change as decades pass. I personally vote for the "twenty hundreds" just to keep the pattern of previous centuries and because it's ridiculous.
posted by acidnova at 12:10 PM on August 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

The millennium decade? The problem with things like "turn of the century" and "aughts" is there are a good number of people alive today who were alive in the last century too, and have a history of thinking that those terms referred to 1900 and that decade. Personally, I just use "this decade" and "last decade" for shorthand, maybe by next decade this will have shaken out better.
posted by sageleaf at 12:21 PM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I dunno, maybe "the zeroes" might cover it.
"The beyond," as in "top hits of the '80s, '90s and beyond"
posted by sageleaf at 12:27 PM on August 10, 2018

"the 2000s" unless I want to be ironic in which case "the noughties"
posted by terretu at 12:43 PM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm a "naughty aughties" guy, myself.
posted by kensington314 at 12:46 PM on August 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I say "the 2000s" and it's usually clear from context (including but not limited to speaking of it in the past tense) that I mean the decade, not the century or the millennium.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:46 PM on August 10, 2018

On the rare occasions when it comes up, I use "aughts," though I've read and liked a suggestion that 2000-09 be called "the tens" and 2010-2019 "the teens."

(I have yet to try "tens" out in conversation, so I'm not sure whether it's understandable on its own.)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 1:02 PM on August 10, 2018

Isn't it strange that we haven't managed to come up with a good term for the first two decades of a century yet? It's not like this is the human race's first trip around that block. I think the closest we've come to a general term is to refer to the first decades as "the early 2000s" or "the early 1900s", and the 2010s/1910s can be referred to as the teens.

If you say "the turn of this century" you'll make it clear that you're not referring to 1900.
posted by orange swan at 1:18 PM on August 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

As an editor, I write "the '00s" and "the '10s" in the same way that my publications use "the '90s," "the '70s," "the '50s," etc., with an apostrophe symbolizing the first two numbers (either 19 or 20). It's good to standardize these newer decades in the same way that other decades are standardized, even if it's not nearly as common in pop culture to actually give names to this decade or the previous one. Especially as we'll surely call the next decade "the '20s."

As for pronunciation, I tend to go for "the Ohs" for "the '00s" and "the Tens" for "the '10s."

(I think "the Teens" for our current decade is a little off, since 10, 11 & 12 aren't teen numbers.)
posted by lisa g at 1:18 PM on August 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

"The beyond," as in "top hits of the '80s, '90s and beyond"
We have a station here that calls it the "80s, 90s, 2K, and today."

When I'm personally referring to the 2000s I say the turn of the century or aughts, because I like that it's old timey and silly. If I wanted to be serious about it I'd probably say "at the millennium" or "the millennial decade."

Right now is easy. Right now we're in the twenty-teens. In a few years it'll be the twenty-twenties and by the twenty-thirties it'll be so normalized we'll wonder why any of this sounded weird in our heads back in the day. No one is scratching their heads over the terminology of the nineteen-teens or nineteen-twenties.
posted by phunniemee at 1:19 PM on August 10, 2018

I like the 20-aughts, and this decade is the 20-tens. I don't know why everybody keeps saying "two thousand" instead of "twenty" . . . are they waiting for 2020 to start that?
posted by MovableBookLady at 1:23 PM on August 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

Here in the UK it is commonly called the noughties (from 'nought' the number zero)
I don't think anyone is particularly fond of it as a word but nothing better has come along.
posted by Lanark at 1:29 PM on August 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm in my mid-forties, and "the turn of the century" is firmly implanted in my mind as c. 1890-1910. There's always a moment of adjustment when someone uses it to mean c. 2000. I have a similar, though not as intense, reaction to "the aughts." I tend to say "first decade of this century" or "turn of the millennium." I think it's strange that turn of the millennium hasn't caught on, because it's immediately understandable and does away with any old-person confusion that "turn of the century" contains.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:36 PM on August 10, 2018

I'm in my late twenties and my wife, my sister, and I all describe 2000 - 2009 as "the thousands" and we're currently in the "twenty-tens." Seeing nobody else so far using "the thousands" as a descriptor in response to this question is really throwing me for a loop. I could swear that was the common terminology I've heard before, but now I'm weirded out because I don't know where I would have heard it.

For documentary information: 27, male, grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, TX, currently living in Austin, TX... WHERE ARE MY PEOPLE!?
posted by Krazor at 2:16 PM on August 10, 2018

And further usage info: 2000 - 2004 specifically are the "early thousands" and 2005 - 2009 are the "late/r thousands" to me.
posted by Krazor at 2:19 PM on August 10, 2018

+1 twenty-aughts and twenty-tens. I mean, we all said 1980’s as nineteen eighties, not nineteen hundred eighties. I have no idea why anyone is saying “two thousand” anything instead of twenty. It’s just inefficient.
posted by greermahoney at 2:20 PM on August 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Wow... Thank you all. If anything has become clear from your responses, it's that there is no consensus on this! On the upside, I do have a lot of options...
posted by zebrabananafish at 2:24 PM on August 10, 2018

Am I the only one who says "the oh-ohs" out loud? It sounds fun!
Otherwise, "the two thousands" I guess.
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:35 PM on August 10, 2018

Now I'm full of existential angst realizing that we're only two years away from 'the twenties'...
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:37 PM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I like the naughties, because of the innuendo, plus they followed the nineties.

I'm trying to get myself to say "back in aught-six" instead of "back in two-thousand six," but I'm not there yet.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:38 PM on August 10, 2018

I'm trying to make 'twenty-hundreds' a thing like 'nineteen-hundreds' was a thing so?
posted by lineofsight at 3:13 PM on August 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

“First decade of this century” is common in my line of work.
posted by suncages at 3:41 PM on August 10, 2018

Here in Australia, no one would say aught six (it would be oh six) and I don't think I've heard the aughties. Aught to me simply means meant to, not a number. The two thousands here, for the last decade, is mostly what I hear.
posted by deadwax at 3:46 PM on August 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I suspect the word ‘aught’ is pretty much unused outside the US, but correction welcome.
posted by Segundus at 3:50 PM on August 10, 2018

"Aughts" sounds really odd to me (from the UK). If it were up to me, the decades would be called nineties, noughties, tenties, twenties.

That said, I think it's quite telling that we haven't "branded" the last two decades yet - it's easy enough to come to some sort of consensus, and the fact that we haven't indicates that the concept of discrete cultural decades is pretty outmoded... I guess it's not really that cultural moments bleed into each other (even though that is the case more often than not) but that the various eras of the new millennium haven't mapped nicely onto decade breaks?
posted by iivix at 4:19 PM on August 10, 2018

"Aughts" makes me think of the turn of the previous century

Exactly. When I was in elementary school, a near-elderly women, a substitute teacher, would use this word during arithmetic and we'd all be looking at each other thinking "Why is she saying ought when she means zero?" and that's still the problem, you can't reliably depend on any random person knowing this 'aught' word. It's archaic. (And naught is likewise troublesome.)

I go with The Two-Thousands. Long, but at this point in time (the twenty-one hundreds) , no ambiguity.
posted by Rash at 4:31 PM on August 10, 2018

No I mean now is the twenty-teens. But I guess that's not become standard yet either.
posted by Rash at 4:37 PM on August 10, 2018

I just used "the late nineties and early two-thousands" in a sentence a few days ago. It felt mostly natural, and everyone knew what I meant.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:12 PM on August 10, 2018

Will people talk about that decade less because they don’t want to desl with the terminology? If so, ambitious artists shoukd wait til the twenties to release anything they are hoping for canonization.
posted by Buddy_Boy at 5:07 AM on August 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

It was the naughts and now it's the teens.
posted by h00py at 7:27 AM on August 11, 2018

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