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February 07, 2012


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Here in the US one occasionally hears of something "coming to naught". I've never heard a zero read as "naught" or "ought" in the US but have in the West Indies.....except that is in conjunction with early 20th Century years such as "Nineteen Ought Six".

Marc Leavitt

For a time in the US, people were referrng to the years from 2001 through 2009 as the "oughts," as in "two thousand ought one," but it wasn't really all that popular; in fact, for practical purposes, it came to naught.


I think naught is actually reasonably common in Britain in numbers containing decimal fractions: 0.5 "naught point five"; 7.05 "seven point naught five".

Nowt, as you say, is still very alive in the North, and owt, too.


I have heard. the. term "Noughties" used on British radio for the first decade of this Century. Is that common usage?

Virtual Linguist

Thanks to all of you for your comments. The OED mentioned "ought" being used in year dates such as nineteen-ought-six, but I've never heard that. Here we'd say "nineteen-oh-six". As for "noughties", it was used in the early part of this century, but mostly in a humorous way, I think. I don't think anyone has yet decided on a name for the next decade (teenies?).


"Nineteen Ought Three" is an older expression. Pretty much no one born in the latter half of the Century would use it.

Another usage of ought is in reference to an early Twentieth Century rifle cartridge: 30-'06, spoken as "thirty ought six". That usage is used by all, even though, curiously, it was originally used in a 1903 Springfield which is universally spoken as "Nineteen Oh Three"

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