A century (from the Latin centum, meaning one hundred; abbreviated c.) is 100 years. Centuries are numbered ordinally in English and many other languages (e.g. "the 7th century AD/CE"). A centenary is a hundredth anniversary or a celebration of this, typically remembrance of an event which took place a hundred years earlier; and its adjectival form is centennial.
Start and end in the Gregorian Calendar
According to the Gregorian calendar, the 1st century AD/CE started on January 1, 1, and ended on December 31, 100. The 2nd century started at year 101, the 3rd at 201, etc. The n-th century started/will start on the year (100 × n) − 99 and ends in 100 × n. A century will only include one year, the centennial year, that starts with the century's number (e.g. 1900 is the final year in the 19th century).
1st century BC and AD
There is no "zeroth century" in between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD. Also, there is no year 0 AD. The Julian calendar "jumps" from 1 BC to 1 AD. The first century BC includes the years 100 BC to 1 BC. Other centuries BC follow the same pattern.
Dating units in other calendar systems
Besides the Gregorian calendar, the Julian calendar, the Aztec calendar, and the Hindu calendar have cycles of years that are used to delineate whole time periods; the Hindu calendar, in particular, summarizes its years into groups of 60, while the Aztec calendar considers groups of 52.
Centuries in astronomical year numbering
Astronomical year numbering, used by astronomers, includes a year zero (0). Consequently, the 1st century in these calendars may designate the years 0 to 99 as the 1st century, years 100 to 199 as the second, etc. However, in order to regard 2000 as the first year of the 21st century according to the astronomical year numbering, the astronomical year 0 has to correspond to the Gregorian year 1 BC.
Alternative naming systems
In Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Finnish, besides the ordinal naming of centuries another system is often used based on the hundreds part of the year, and consequently centuries start at even multiples of 100. For example, Swedish nittonhundratalet (or 1900-talet), Danish nittenhundredetallet (or 1900-tallet), Norwegian nittenhundretallet (or 1900-tallet) and Finnish tuhatyhdeksänsataaluku (or 1900-luku) refer unambiguously to the years 1900–1999.
The same system is used informally in English. For example, the years 1900–1999 are sometimes referred to as the nineteen hundreds (1900s). This is similar to the English decade names (1980s, meaning the years 1980–1989).
|Look up century in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Age of Discovery
- Ancient history
- Before Christ
- Common Era
- List of centuries
- Middle Ages
- Modern era
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- Two separate systems that also do not use religious titles, the astronomical system and the ISO 8601 standard do use a year zero. The year 1 BC (identical to the year 1 BC) is represented as 0 in the astronomical system, and as 0000 in ISO 8601. Presently, ISO 8601 dating requires usage of the Gregorian calendar for all dates, whereas astronomical dating and Common Era dating allow usage of the Julian calendar for dates before 1582 AD.
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