Finally, the End of the Whatchamacallit Decade

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!


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35 Responses to Finally, the End of the Whatchamacallit Decade

  1. Waleed Adel says:

    Hello Jeff,

    I consider the year 2009 is the best educational year for me. it is the year i knew you and Dr. Lucy Tse.
    I really love english but the problem is in my country there is alot of mistakes you could make if you start speaking english.
    The accent is also a big problem. I’ve asked someone where in britain how can i speak like a native speaker? how to speak without thinking, he said: there is no need to speak like a native speaker, just your speech has to be understood, but this is not what i am looking for. I don’t need english for my career, but i need it because i love it. but i couldn’t find the one who can teach me.
    when i heared you for the first time i relly felt different because of your accent and your way and your experiace, i really appreciate you and respect you.
    you are the best one for me in 2009 dr jiff.

  2. Tania says:

    Hi ! It is New Year’s Eve . The New Year will be born . It is time for looking back – or else looking forward . We look back over all that has happened
    during the past year . We look forward with hope to the New Year that is just beginning – hope that it will bring health and happiness to those we love ,
    and peace to all mankind .

    A Happy New Year , Dr. Jeff to you and to your family ! Thank you for all you teach us every day .

    A Happy New Year to all our blog friends .


  3. Peter says:

    You are funny as hell!!

    I assume,British Chose the term “noughties” ,as people across the glob witnenssed a quite eventful decade.But, the term is not still there.In a sense,the term does not completely communicate the importance of all the up and down planet earth went through during the 10 year period. Experts need to come up with something more meaningful ,more comprehensive, A term capable of communicating the very essence of the past may oppose ,but I personally believe, 2000-2009 decade was ,in a way, a milestone in the history of men kind.

    Do you feel me Jeff?
    I like your touch, though.
    What is the rush? The year has not changed yet. I don’t know ,maybe it is happening in your zone. However ,save all the new year greetings when the night dies at midnight!

    Live larg,

  4. Peter says:

    My friend Waleed ,

    No mean to be harsh on you,but living in an English-speaking country ,you must keep up with them. I mean you must communicate as fluent ,and as fast. \\
    I am telling you ,there is no ifs and buts to it . It is a must!, my friend. Take it from me ,it is a must!!

    The key to thinking in English is to commit yourself to lots of reading and listening. Try to repeat after Jeff ,as he speaks. It helps a lot!!!!!!

    Keep doing it my friend ,and you thank me later!

  5. emiliano says:

    The wether in Spain is terrible all these days, I can´t remember such many rain here in December, snow and wind every day every where all along the spanish map.
    Today is the night when thousand of persons watch to the big clock of Puerta del Sol in Madrid, ringing the twelve ding dongs and simultaneously swallowing twelve grapes each for everyone ding-dong.
    It is really very funny, and all the Tv. here do the same, just connecting with Puerta del Sol clock, or other cities clocks, and all people at home swallowing the grapes.

    My father never have eaten the grapes, he prefers to sip from his cup twelve champagne instead of the grapes, and I did the same along the years watching simultaneously all the women at home eating the grapes.
    Thousands of madrilenes would be in Puerta del Sol, the same that N.York´s people at Time Square, watching the Clock and
    swallowing by each ding-dong……..but today?. So cold, so many rain?…..what a pity for the people in the Puerta del Sol Square.
    But a great majority of them it is sure that have some bottle of champagne, and they are drunken for the time of the ding-dongs.

    Cuca told me that in the year 1910 there was a very big grape harvest in Spain, and by this reason people begun to eat the grapes
    as a sing of good luck for the next year.
    I think that everywhere, or every country, have their customs, and here is the tradition, you have to eat all the grapes and each at the same time that the dong of the clock bell.

    Cuca and me would be at home, without grapes of course, because she don´t like to eat them if I doesn´t, and that is also a tradition
    at home…..emiliano´s father and son do not eat grapes at all.

    A nice and happy new year with or without grapes for all of us.
    Lucy, Jeff, ESL team, all my good wishes for all of you and your families, a new year full of work and new projects.

    You are close to my heart always, in fact every day.

    cuca and emiliano from the windy, cold and rainy city of Madrid, Spain.

  6. Peter says:

    In a fresh start to find happiness,I wish you the best of luck!!


  7. Peter says:

    We don’t teach people; we help them discover it within themselves.

    By now,

  8. Peter says:

    Mark my words,

    2010 is upon us ,and before we know it, 2011 will be . what is the point of all this routin thing that I will never know.

  9. Li from Vietnam says:

    HAPPY NEW YEAR! WISH YOU A HAPPY JOYFUL SUCCESFUL YEAR! Thank you for your wonderful job. I write this note to you when i am listening to CNN showing the New Year Eve’s in New York. I hope its not so cold for you in LA 🙂

  10. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff and Lucy ,
    May God bless it , fait follow it ,and life play it for you!

    Life officially sucks ,hope you have it otherwise!

  11. dongsung says:

    finally, 2010 is begin. I’m expecting future that I have to faced. I wish that is all fine one.
    And I have a few things of resolution. one is to improve my English, and another is to take exersize and the last one is fully help my wife to give birth to our baby.
    Happy New Year everyone. and I always appreaciate your effort to teach. thank you Jeff and Lucy!

  12. Tania says:

    Hi ! Happy New Year ! Every year in the first day of the year I like to listen to the concert of the Viena philarmonic orchestra .
    Like every year it is fantastic . We feel more pure , more gentle .

    All the best to all you ,


  13. Peter says:

    No mean to be a party popper ,but all the cosmic crazy new year thing is over rated.

  14. Peter says:

    I know Advice is cheap ,

    but take my advice and don’t pass up ( miss) any oportunity comes your way this year around.

    Be happy ,and make others happy

  15. Peter says:

    I am so pissy,

    I got passed over a promotion at work.I was to get bumped up to another
    departhment ,but I never landed it.maybe ,I am not up to it yet.

    You never know ,maybe this mishapp is a blessing in disguise. I broke my back for that.

    Seems like, I am off to a good start this year,ha

  16. Tania says:

    Hi ! I succeeded in listening to the “Angels We Have Heard on High ” on You Tube . I like it .
    Who is interested Hymn Book provides free downloads of pipe organ recordings of Christian hymns and service music .
    But for me it sounds like the classical music or symphony concert . Maybe the pipe organ gives us the feeling , the faith we could heard the angels on High .
    We do not use the organ in the church in my country . Only the choir and our priest give us the feeling of hope , joy and the resurrection of spirit .

    But of course , without politics , without religion between friends .


  17. Tania says:

    Hi ! Interesting this word “decade ” . In my country we call it “decada” and it means and ten days and ten years . Now it is all a blur for me taking into account the reading of “0” in English :
    – in mathematics – nought or naught , e.g. 0.6
    – point between + and – on a scale- zero . e.g. It was two degrees below zero last night .
    – in telephone numbers 0 [oh]
    – in sport scores – nil , e.g. The final results of the match was 2:0 (two to nil) .
    – in tennis score – love , e.g. The first game was interrupted at 45:0 (forty-five to love ) .
    – figuratively – cipher , e.g. He is a cipher in mathematics .

    Do we use the same in the American English ?


  18. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff and Lucy,

    belive you me,I am not fawning over or anything:)

    over the past year , the bolg was a getaway trip ,an ego trip ,an oasis away from all the hardship ,and pain.hope this year we have this shelter up until the last day.

    last year ,virtually,You were with us through ups and downs and educated us to comunicate those ups and downs with more clarity and proficency.let it be this year through the end that I can’t afford not having you guys in my life.

  19. Peter says:

    Eslpod has become an inherent part of me.

  20. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff,

    the term “whatachamacallit” is so interesting that I wanna use it. The problem is I don’t know how to pronounce it

    I checked a couple of audio dictionaries. Unfortunatly there is no Audi programmer for the term


    Thanks Plenty

  21. Tania says:

    Hi ! Talking about naught … I maintain my first statement : I have not been naughty . For this reason I received a nice present , well not a real present but
    for me it means a present . May I tell you ? Last Sunday watching CNN , at Fareed Zakaria GPS I saw a rare American interview with Malcolm Gladwell.
    Thanks to English Cafe I was able to catch the idea from his last book “How Do Underdogs Win ?” – not playing by the rules , an atypical strategies for
    success . I have not got all that , still … I am proud to see Malcolm Gladwell . Is he an alien with his large eyes and big head ?
    Luckily I noted your phrase “I’m rooting for the underdog ” . So , I could understand the message of the title .
    Thank you .
    I think I am an underdog . Will I win ?


  22. Peter says:

    Dear Family and Friends


    My Wish for You in 2010

    May peace break into your home and

    May thieves come to steal your debts. 
    May the pockets of your clothes become a magnet for money to pay your bills,

    with a little over to spend how you wish! 
    May love stick to your face like Vaseline and

    May laughter assault your lips! 
    May happiness slap you across the face and

    May your tears be that of joy 
    May the problems you had, forget your home address! 
    In simple words …………

    May 2010 be the best year

     of your life!!!


    A Happy New Year!!

    A friend sent it
    it is funny ,isn’t it

  23. Sorry to burst your bubble, but 2010 does not mark beginning of a new decade. It is, in fact, the end of the first decade of the 20th century. The year 2000 was celebrated as though it was the beginning of a new century, but it was only the end of the 20th century.

    I hope you will check this out from other sources…like Google.

    Wm. W. Thompson, PhD
    Marketing Professor/Retired

  24. Peter says:

    Last year, you honoured us with a fusillade of practical terms, phrase, and expressions.hope you keep up with the manner this year around.

    Last night I had this dream that I was on the phone with Lucy asking about English stuff
    Jeff was away

    I was asking for the advice

    it was totally noble to me

  25. Peter says:

    No need Jeff,

    I found the pronounciation

    you see,

    when there is a will ,there is a way.

  26. Peter says:

    Hi guys,

    I remembered Daniel , one of our blog mates ask about the term” tearjerker” that I used.
    At the time I didn’t know if it is an actual ,totally by accident, I ran into the word.
    The word means something that make you feel sad

    the word officialy is word

    First I thought it was some make up word by my proff

    The thing I wanna know is that if “doorpusher” is a word or not!
    however ,definitly tearjerker is a word .If you wanna look it up it is one word.

  27. Peter says:

    I give an instance:
    a drama movie could be a tearjerker because it make you feel sentimental, and emotional ;ergo chances are you burst into cry.

  28. isaac says:

    you have no idea how much I laughed reading this post. God bless you Jeff. God bless you !

  29. Tania says:

    Nice lyrics . I noted them . Maybe I can use them when I write a greeting card .

  30. Peter says:


    The year 2010 officialy started today. We should wait to see how this year play itself out( develope twords the end).

    Don’t let the begining fool you.the end is near.pick up the pace.

  31. bakhtiar says:

    Last decade for me was full of surprises of bad good and ugly events.however i consider it positive ten years pass on my life now i am almost thirty and i well educated person and i have a good job especially after i branch out in the field of human rights to become a social planner, since this week for the first time since 2003 i have work assignment and schedule. although it is entry level to me this kind of work , i dedicate to learn my job description as fast as possible for this reason i seem to new look somehow naughty to some of them, but i don’t care as much as i can, my new boss is so intelligent and enlightened person, i support him i do impossible to impress him with my unique skills, i found my niche in business man.

  32. Hoang Bui says:

    Hi Jeff:

    “Whatchamacallit” sounds like the language of a teen-ager with an attitude but I still like it.

    Do you remember how you souded like during the seventies?
    Was it in a split second of recalling the past memories you came up with the invention of the name for the decade?


    Thanks Dr. Tse and Jeff for making us laugh with you on the start of 2010.

  33. emiliano says:

    Few of our friends here may know how these ten years have changed my life by all means.

    Yes, I am like a new person living other life so different that the one I have before the 2000 that is really incredible.

    Living in four houses and leaving away thousands of things inside of them, two new friends, new life, new man doing what he wants to do and feeling better inside despite not so good changes in his life.

    That´s all what these last decade means to me.

    A new life, a new house, me feeling as a new and better man, a new way of living, and learning English at last, thank you Jeff and Lucy…, you helped me along these last nearly five years.
    Your daily good company have been a treasure to me day after day, you know it as I write here so long and so often.

  34. Peter says:

    You got it right! Emiliano,

    we are all running a double life!

    One with our firends and family
    the other one is this blog and what we share with Jeff and Lucy as our both profs and agony aunts( joking )

    now you brought it up , I have had this very feeling for a while that lately, I have been living a double life one abounded with misery and the other one flourished by learning ,gaining,and achieving.

    Well-put Emiliano

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