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 An atmospheric river earlier this week produced what officials described as a once-in-a-century rainfall, causing flooding and powerful mudslides in the southern part of B.C., Canada’s westernmost province. Washington Post, 19 Nov. 2021 Democratic strategists hope the unique political circumstances of a once-in-a-century pandemic and a violent Capitol insurrection can upend historical patterns. John Harwood, CNN, 14 Nov. 2021 But downtown Boston also needs soon-to-be Mayor Michelle Wu’s attention as the once-in-a-century pandemic continues to upend its raison d’être. Shirley Leung, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Nov. 2021 The White House has tried to emphasize that prices are jumping while the country is staging a rapid economic rebound from a once-in-a-century disaster. Jeanna Smialek, New York Times, 10 Nov. 2021 Beatles memorabilia is still a hit, even more than half a century after the band’s break up. Carlie Porterfield, Forbes, 5 Nov. 2021 After nearly half a century, the Stanley Cup again belongs to Chicago. Kori Rumore, chicagotribune.com, 18 Oct. 2021 What happened next was pored over by three juries, a scandal-mad public, and a century’s worth of amateur criminologists. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, 4 Oct. 2021 Since then, the gas companies have slogged through a slow, expensive process of digging up pipes and replacing them with new ones meant to last more than half a century. BostonGlobe.com, 3 Oct. 2021

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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Time Traveler for century

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near century



century plant

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Statistics for century

Last Updated

24 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Century.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/century. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for century



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

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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