Today, we mostly refer to years in their full name: 2020 as "twenty twenty", or "two thousand twenty".

In the late 1900s, we were mostly using the short form: 1995 as "ninety five".

How did people refer to years a century ago? Did people say "twenty three" for 1923 (for example), or did they spell out the entire thing?

If yes, why aren't we doing the same now? What's different?

If no, when did the language shift occur?

  • 3
    In the late 1900s, we were mostly using the short form We were? I'm not sure this was really that universal. The abbreviation (e.g. '99) was common but so was the full form.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 7:55
  • 1
    Welcome to History:Stack Exchange. Thank you for your question; please consider revising it to be more in line with our community expectations. Like many other stacks, we expect questions to provide evidence of prior research. That helps us to understand the question, and avoids our repeating work you've already done. Our help center, and other stacks provide additional resources to assist with revisions.
    – MCW
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 11:28
  • 2
    Better suited to the English Language & Usage site. But there's no universal rule, e.g. I've always referred to my Miata as an "02" when buying parts.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 18:41
  • In the early 19th century people referred to "the Spirit of '76", so it goes back hundreds of years.
    – user15620
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 2:29


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