noun; analogy
The first decade of the 21st century (e.g.,‘the aughts’). The word 'AUGHTS' indicates the presence of more than one zero in a number, as in the year date, e.g., 2-0-0-5. Since the first ten years of this century have two zeros in the middle of their year date, by metaphorical extension, aughts is used to describe the first decade of the century. It builds on such phrases as the fifties, eighties, nineties, etc. Since there does not seem to be a standard way of referring to this decade, as in "the nineties," aughts was coined to represent it.
I have taught in the seventies, eighties, nineties, and the aughts.
Etymology : AUGHTS comes from the word aught, meaning zero, which was in turn formed from "naught" by faulty separation (a naught > an aught). Naught is from Old English nawiht, na 'no' + wiht 'thing.'
Source : A sociology professor
Last modified: 10 June 2008