I was born in what we sometimes refer to in English as the sixties, that is, the 1960s. I went to grade (elementary) school and high school in the seventies, went to college in the eighties, and worked and went back to college in the nineties. All that is easy to explain. But what do Americans call the next decade (ten years), from 2000 to 2009, that ends today? How do I say, for example, I began working on a podcast during this time period?
This question was often asked ten years ago, in 1999, and various words were suggested then. One idea was to call this decade the “aughts,” since aught is a British English term for zero. But Americans almost never use this word, and it did not catch on (become popular). Other solutions include “the two thousands,” “the double ohs” (oh means zero), and “the double zeros.” Again, none of these became popular. The truth is that, at least in the United States, there is no commonly accepted term to refer to the decade that ends today.
In Britain, where “aught” is actually used as a word for zero, the term “noughties” has become popular to describe this decade. “Noughties” sounds like “naughty,” which is a word you might use with a young child to describe something bad or wrong (for an adult, it is also an informal, somewhat humorous term for something that is related to sex). No doubt (probably) the British think they are being rather clever (smart) in choosing that term. But Americans have not adopted it. Right now people just avoid referring to this decade with a single name.
Another solution would be to see what we called the last “00″ decade, 1900-1909. Unfortunately, Americans one hundred years ago had the same problem we have today, and they never really came up with (invented) a good term! And what about previous centuries – say, 1800-1809 or 1500-1509? Apparently, it was not common to use a single term to refer to a decade before the 19th century, so the question never came up (was never asked).
I therefore propose we call the years 2000 to 2009 “the Whatchamacallit Decade.” Whatchamacallit is an very informal term we use for something that we can’t think of or don’t know the name of. It probably comes from the expression “what you may call it,” and is sometimes used humorously (as a joke). You might say, “Give me that whatchamacallit sitting on the table there” to refer to something on the table. It can be used with any object. Since we don’t really know what to call this decade, whatchamacallit seems as good a choice as any (as good as any other choice).
There! I’ve solved the problem of the decade – you know, the Whatchamacallit Decade. (You’re welcome, America.)
May you and everyone you know have a happy and peaceful New Year!