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[dek-eyd; British also duh-keyd] /ˈdɛk eɪd; British also dəˈkeɪd/
a period of ten years:
the three decades from 1776 to 1806.
a period of ten years beginning with a year whose last digit is zero:
the decade of the 1980s.
a group, set, or series of ten.
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English < Middle French < Late Latin decad- (stem of decas) < Greek dekad- (stem of dekás) group of ten, equivalent to dék(a) ten + -ad- -ade2
Related forms
half-decade, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for decades
  • And given the right care, they can live for decades.
  • Several decades ago, the area was a prime location for heavy industry.
  • Some nests-those of bald eagles come to mind-can weigh hundreds or thousands of pounds and are used for decades.
  • For decades the prevailing philosophy about rainwater was to catch it and route it into a storm drain.
  • The last three or four decades have witnessed a marked change in the character of the literature relating to education.
  • The country lacked political stability, however, and experienced a series of military coups during its first decades.
  • In later decades, this was almost invariably the case.
  • Wireless telephony had been several decades in the making.
  • Prize pumpkins have tripled in size in the past three decades.
  • The ability to see the brain in a fresh light has given rise to a wealth of insights in the past few decades.
British Dictionary definitions for decades


/ˈdɛkeɪd; dɪˈkeɪd/
a period of ten consecutive years
a group or series of ten
Derived Forms
decadal, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Old French, from Late Latin decad-, decas, from Greek dekas, from deka ten
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for decades



mid-15c., "ten parts" (of anything; originally in reference to the books of Livy), from Middle French décade (14c.), from Late Latin decadem (nominative decas), from Greek dekas (genitive dekados) "group of ten," from deka "ten" (see ten). Meaning "period of ten years" is 1590s in English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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