Will we call the 2020s the twenties?

With 2020 less than three years away it got us thinking – will we call the next decade the twenties?

Won’t it be confusing as we already call the 1920s the twenties? Did people call the 1820s the twenties?

So many questions that thankfully Google Books Ngram Viewer can help us begin to answer. We looked at a selection of decades and  interestingly there are some distinct patterns:

  • The twenties and thirties both rocketed in usage in the 1940s.
  • The fourties has consistently lower usage than all of the other terms, perhaps because of the trans-Atlantic split between forties and fourties.
  • The fifties takes off in the 1960s, similar to the thirties in the 1940s.
  • The sixties peaks in 1978 and has the largest peak of any decade.
  • The seventies peaks in 1984.
  • Bizarrely the eighties peaks twice; in 1929 and 1992.
  • The nineties peaks in 1932 before starting a steady decline, arrested briefly in 1999 before slipping again.

These numbers are fascinating and warrant more investigation. For example, world events obviously have their part to play but do they explain the longevity of certain terms over others?

Consider this topic as one to be continued…