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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 11:11 GMT
It's 2002 - and the decade still has no name
Where are we now?
We still don't know what to call this decade of ours. Is it the Noughties, the Nillies, the Oos, the Zeroes? The uncertainty can't be good for us. Let us know what you are calling it.

Two years ago to the day, as we emerged blinking into the year 2000, everyone wondered how much things were going to change.

What would this new era be like? In the 60s we had been funky. We were uncool in the 70s, selfish in the 80s, and touchy-feely in the 90s.

But no-one knew what characteristics would typify the first 10 years of the 2000s.

A flair for fashion in the 70s
More worryingly, perhaps, was that we had no idea what we were going to call them.

Here's an article from the day in question which illustrates our uncertainty. But who would have thought that two years later we would be none the wiser.

The options were unimpressive even then... the "twenty-hundreds", the "Os", the "double Os", the "nillies". Nothing quite hit the mark.

The "noughties" seems to be the word of choice for the cultural commentary industry which thrives mostly in Sunday newspapers.

Examples of its recent use include assertions that The Lord of the Rings is going to be the "Star Wars for the noughties generation".

Posing naked for charity calendars has, according to another source, "become for the Noughties what bring-and-buy sales were in the Eighties".

[Noughties] won't work because in America the word 'nought' is never used for zero, never ever

Douglas Coupland
And in case you hadn't noticed, "dressing down this winter has gone classic with a noughties twist", "shopping is the opium of the noughties generation", and hotels have become "the trendiest hang-out of the noughties".

The term appears to be even more commonly used by the Australian media.

But this doesn't mean that ordinary people are speaking it in their everyday language. Fashion journalists may use a word over and over again, but that is no guarantee that it will gain wider currency.

As we pointed out two years ago, a major drawback of "noughties" is that it sounds like an East End villain's affectionate term for breaking your legs.

But there is a bigger problem, identified by one of the world's greatest trend-spotters, Douglas Coupland, author of the seminal novels Generation X and Microserfs.

Douglas Coupland with statue
Douglas Coupland: We've all got to agree
Coupland, who has done far more than his fair share of identifying next big things, told BBC News Online that "noughties" has no chance.

"It won't work because in America the word 'nought' is never used for zero, never ever," he says.

Without the US adopting it, he says, the word stands no chance.

"People wanting to categorise or define the decade are being stymied at the moment because no-one really knows what to call it. I think some people by default are calling it 'the Zeroes' in the States. You have to have a global agreement and that's not happened yet."

So perhaps the UK should start using the Zeroes. It would go some way to reflect the advance of everything digital. And while we're surfing that wave, there is the extra benefit that in eight years' time it can be simply upgraded to "the Ones".

Let us know what word you are using - or any other bright ideas you might have. Here's some of your suggestions so far:

It's obvious! The Andies - two thousand and one, two thousand and two, etc. Just ignore 2000 though.
Richard Mays, England

It would seem the Y2K problem will hit us after all. Can we call 2020 the twenties without centurial confusion? How about the prefix 2k, going from the 2kOs (O the letter) to the 2k90s?
Mike Jones, Austria

I think the ozzies is cute, but I refer to the decade as the two thousands.
Leeann Gallaway, Canada

Last time our monarchs conveniently arranged to die at just the right time (Victoria in 1901, Edward VII in 1910), so the first decade was the Edwardian period. Then we had WWI, which took up most of the following decade. This time round, I doubt we can be so lucky (or unlucky, from the Queen's point of view). Given that zip is often used in the US for zero, may I suggest "the zips" for this decade? It's short, sweet and snappy, which is always more acceptable than longer words like "noughties".
Richard Peers, England

How about calling it the Double Os (as in 007) or just plain double zeros?
Suhaib, India

If it spares us artificially nostalgic "I love the XXs" programmes, then I am glad this decade has no name.
Bob Cousins, UK

Decades tend to get named after they have passed, and then by the media, the historians, or the popular culture mavens. After all, the names given have nothing to do with the lives of most of the people who live through the time: the 1920s only roared for the young, urban crowd, mostly in the US. The Naughty Nineties (1890s) were named based on the activities of a segment of the rich - the poor and working people were too busy trying to scrabble a living to be partying on champagne.
Gianni, Canada

My friends and I call this decade the nulls (why yes, we are mostly computer techs). As for the next decade, we'll probably call it the teens like our grandparents did for the 1910s.
Ray Kubeskie, US

I guess we're calling it "this decade" and "the decade". I suppose we'll look back on it as "that decade".
Jordan Davis, US

I'm glad the decade has no name. It is wrong to pigeonhole events just because a number on a calendar has changed. The world does not suddenly switch its culture at the end of each decade.
Chris Ward, UK

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