cen·​tu·​ry | \ ˈsen(t)-sh(ə-)rē How to pronounce century (audio) \
plural centuries

Definition of century

1 : a period of 100 years a company that has been in business for more than a century specifically : one of the 100-year divisions of the Christian era or of the preceding period of human history the third century A.D./B.C the 18th century
2 : a group, sequence, or series of 100 like things
3a : a subdivision of the Roman legion the third century A.D.
b : a voting unit of ancient Rome constituted according to property qualifications
4 : a race over a hundred units (such as yards, miles, or meters)

Examples of century in a Sentence

It took more than a century to complete the cathedral. The pottery dates back to the sixth century B.C.E. When the prince got married, it was called the wedding of the century.
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Recent Examples on the Web

China’s recovery of sovereignty over the former British colony is a matter of national pride that reversed a century and a half of colonial humiliation. Chris Buckley, BostonGlobe.com, "Hong Kong crisis tests confidence in Xi’s iron grasp," 7 Sep. 2019 The waterway winds through a slot canyon shaped by centuries of running water as sunlight peeks through the narrow opening high above. Melissa Yeager, azcentral, "Instagram-famous Kanarra Falls allows 150 hikers daily. Here's how to get a permit," 1 Aug. 2019 Those hairs are hardy, capable of withstanding years or even centuries of rain, heat and wind. Heather Murphy, New York Times, "Why This Scientist Keeps Receiving Packages of Serial Killers’ Hair," 16 Sep. 2019 The day sticks with everyone connected with the guard’s mission at Forward Operating Base Ghazni, where Texans specializing in agriculture and animal husbandry worked to help Afghan farmers break away from centuries of subsistence life. Sig Christenson, ExpressNews.com, "After 18 years, Texas veterans wonder how long U.S. can stay in Afghanistan," 15 Sep. 2019 In a world where a centimeter of sediment can take centuries to accumulate, the fact that 130 meters of material was deposited in a day is remarkable. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Here’s what happened in the impact crater the day it did in the dinos," 15 Sep. 2019 Burns’ new 16-hour documentary series, Country Music, arrives Sept. 15 on PBS, and covers a century of the genre with the same painstaking attention to detail seen in his other award-winning series like Baseball and The Vietnam War. Andrew R. Chow, Time, "Black Artists Built Country Music—And Then It Left Them Behind," 11 Sep. 2019 The attitude of English Protestants toward Catholicism in Locke’s day was shaped by over a century of religious conflict. Joseph Loconte, National Review, "The Need for a Revival of Lockean Liberalism," 11 Sep. 2019 Between him and other relatives, this family has racked up a century of service in the U.S. military, his daughter Linda Kay Shaw said. Donovan Slack, USA TODAY, "Exclusive: Second homicide identified in string of deaths at VA hospital; family 'floored'," 28 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'century.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of century

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for century

Latin centuria, irregular from centum hundred

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Dictionary Entries near century





century plant



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Last Updated

11 Oct 2019

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The first known use of century was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of century

: a period of 100 years
: a period of 100 years counted from the beginning of the Christian era


cen·​tu·​ry | \ ˈsen-chə-rē How to pronounce century (audio) , ˈsench-rē\
plural centuries

Kids Definition of century

: a period of 100 years

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More from Merriam-Webster on century

Spanish Central: Translation of century

Nglish: Translation of century for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of century for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about century

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