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[twen-tee, twuhn-] /ˈtwɛn ti, ˈtwʌn-/
noun, plural twenties.
a cardinal number, 10 times 2.
a symbol for this number, as 20 or XX.
a set of this many persons or things.
Informal. a twenty-dollar bill:
Can you give me two tens for a twenty?
twenties, the numbers, years, degrees, or the like, from 20 through 29, as in referring to numbered streets, indicating the years of a lifetime or of a century, or referring to degrees of temperature:
He lives in the West Twenties. She's in her early twenties. The temperature must be in the high twenties today.
amounting to 20 in number.
Origin of twenty
before 900; Middle English; Old English twēntig; cognate with Old Frisian tw(e)intich, Old High German zweinzug (German zwanzig), Gothic twai tigjus two tens Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for twenties
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Norton drew out a packet of bills and counted off five twenties.

    The Million Dollar Mystery Harold MacGrath
  • This time, a mild-faced young man in his middle twenties appeared.

    Dead Giveaway Gordon Randall Garrett
  • I had been glad to die; but the pulse of life runs strong in the twenties; and the shrewd old beggar was right.

    A Dash .. .. .. For a Throne Arthur W. Marchmont
  • Fives—tens—twenties—fifties—all crisp, and nice, and new bank-notes.

    The Ghost William. D. O'Connor
  • Yet young women in the twenties do not always scorn the attentions of boys, and Jenny had certainly not despised Lacey's.

    The Great Miss Driver Anthony Hope
British Dictionary definitions for twenties


noun (pl) -ties
the cardinal number that is the product of ten and two; a score See also number (sense 1)
a numeral, 20, XX, etc, representing this number
something representing, represented by, or consisting of 20 units
  1. amounting to twenty: twenty questions
  2. (as pronoun): to order twenty
adjectives vicenary vigesimal prefix icosa-
Word Origin
Old English twēntig; related to Old High German zweinzug, German zwanzig
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 twenties

1829 as the years of someone's life between 20 and 29; 1830 as a decade of years in a given century. See twenty.



Old English twentig "group of twenty," from twegen "two" (see two) + -tig "group of ten" (see -ty (1)). Cognate with Old Frisian twintich, Dutch twintig, Old High German zweinzug, German zwanzig. Gothic twai tigjus is even more transparent: literally "two tens."

The card game twenty-one (1790) is from French vingt-et-un (1781). Twenty-twenty hindsight is first recorded 1962, a figurative use of the Snellen fraction for normal visual acuity, expressed in feet. The guessing game of twenty questions is recorded from 1786. The Twentieth Century Limited was an express train from New York to Chicago 1902-1967.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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