How to Name Centuries

What Are Centuries?

A century is a unit of time equal to 100 years. Centuries are named using ordinal numbers, so we might refer to the 3rd century or the sixteenth century. Using this system it would be logical to assume that the first century refers to the earliest recorded time, but this is not the case. 


Traditionally, the first century refers to the first 100 years after the birth of Christ, denoted with the abbreviation A.D. meaning Anno Domini (year of the Lord). Nowadays, this is often replaced with the secular C.E. meaning Common Era. 

Centuries before Christ are denoted with the abbreviation B.C. meaning Before Christ. Today the secular B.C.E. meaning Before Common Era is often used instead.

How to Name Centuries

It is important to understand how to name centuries correctly so that you can place a date in the correct century.

First Century

1st January 1 – 31st December 100

Second Century

1st January 101 – 31st December 200

Third Century

1st January 201 – 31st December 300

Fourth Century

1st January 301 – 31st December 400

Fifth Century

1st January 401 – 31st December 500

Sixth Century

1st January 501 – 31st December 600

Seventh Century

1st January 601 – 31st December 700

Eighth Century

1st January 701 – 31st December 800

Ninth Century

1st January 801 – 31st December 900

Tenth Century

1st January 901 – 31st December 1000

Eleventh Century

1st January 1001 – 31st December 1100

Twelfth Century

1st January 1101 – 31st December 1200

Thirteenth Century

1st January 1201 – 31st December 1300

Fourteenth Century

1st January 1301 – 31st December 1400

Fifteenth Century

1st January 1401 – 31st December 1500

Sixteenth Century

1st January 1501 – 31st December 1600

Seventeenth Century

1st January 1601 – 31st December 1700

Eighteenth Century

1st January 1701 – 31st December 1800

Nineteenth Century

1st January 1801 – 31st December 1900

Twentieth Century

1st January 1901 – 31st December 2000

Twenty-First Century

1st January 2001 – 31st December 2100


The above list is the correct formal method of naming centuries. in reality, new centuries are widely celebrated a year early. this is because celebrating the change from 99 to 00 is more appealing psychologically than the change from 00 to 01.

Huge celebrations were held around the World on 31st December 1999 to mark the end of the century and the millennium.

Fireworks mark the end of centuries


Citation Information:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2020 – 2022). How to Name Centuries. Available: Last accessed April 7th, 2024