Does it mean from year 1995 to year 1999 or from 1995 to 2004?

Can you explain some more usages of the word decade. Thanks.

Edit: Source is here

Radiation therapy was used less frequently in the decade after 1994 than in the prior.

  • Where have you seen decade used in such a way—with the range starting in 1995? Jun 27, 2018 at 10:57
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    A decade is just 10 years. 1991-2001 is a decade just like 1990-2000 @JasonBassford Jun 27, 2018 at 16:46
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    @cal97g I know the definition of the word. :) I was curious as to the source of the question. Although not wrong, it's uncommon to see it used in this way, and knowing why it's being asked would help clarify the question. Jun 27, 2018 at 16:49

4 Answers 4


The only sense which could be expected is from 1994 or 1995 to 2004.

If someone meant 1995-1999 then they would have to say something like "the rest of the decade after 1995."

  • 2
    or perhaps... the following qinqade?
    – Stian
    Jun 27, 2018 at 13:53
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    Right. I'm bemused to see people describing the "ten years" meaning as an unusual usage -- I don't see it as unusual or uncommon at all. "Decade" means ten years, and 1994-2004 in response to the OP seems obvious to me. If, for example, I started working at a company in 1994 and worked there "for a decade", I was there until (roughly) 2004
    – Stephen R
    Jun 27, 2018 at 17:17
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    @StephenR To be fair to the OP, in a phrase like "I worked there for a decade", the context makes it clear that "a decade" means the length of a period of time. "Ten years" would mean the same. There is no seeming contradiction to confuse anyone. In the source the OP refers to, "the decade after 1994" is used to mean the period itself. This seems to contradict the commoner use of decade to mean a ten-year period starting with a year whose number ends with 0. Hence the OP's confusion.
    – Rosie F
    Jun 28, 2018 at 14:11
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    @RosieF but note you can say things like "The century after the Civil War" or "the decade after WWI ended"; I doubt anyone would expect the first to mean 1900-2000 (instead of 1865-1965) or the second to mean 1920-1930 (instead of 1918-1928)
    – eques
    Jun 28, 2018 at 14:59

You don't usually see 'decade' used this way, but you do often see sentences with "in the decade following [an event in 1994]". In that case it means the next ten years, from 1994-2004.

So a sentence might say something like:

In the decade after the 1994 World Cup, the popularity of women's soccer grew exponentially in the United States

That means that the popularity grew between the summer of 1994 (after the World Cup ended) and the summer of 2004 (10 years later).

  • 8
    In what way do you usually see "decade" used? It doesn't strike me as an unusual usage at all. Sure, it can be used to refer the 80's or 90's or some other ten-year period specifically starting in a year ending in 0, but it doesn't have to. It would be totally normal to say "I've lived here for a decade" or "that organization was founded decades ago", without any regard to the actual year those things began. Jun 27, 2018 at 18:17
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    @NuclearWang I meant the specific phrase, "In the decade after 1994". That seems incredibly awkward to me. It is common to see "for a decade" or "a decade after a certain event" but not really "a decade after a particular year"
    – MMAdams
    Jun 27, 2018 at 18:18
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    @MMAdams Doesn't seem at all awkward to me. Jun 27, 2018 at 18:26
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    I think the problem is calling it "the decade," which connotes a fixed decade like "the 80's" or "the 90's" rather than a unit of time.
    – Kevin
    Jun 27, 2018 at 21:13
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    @Kevin - I'd disagree. It's specifying a 10-yr period from a starting reference point. "In the decades since the end of WWII" ... "In the decade after the housing market collapse," etc. The assumption that it means "1980s, 1990s," etc is also because you're specifying a 10-yr period from a starting reference point - it just happens to be a nice round multiple of 10.
    – mc01
    Jun 28, 2018 at 0:56

A decade is just a period of ten consecutive years. It's not restricted to periods where the first three digits of the year are the same, such as the 1980s.


They've given us several boundaries to determine the meaning. "After 1994" isn't inclusive, so our starting point is 1995. Since our start date doesn't end in zero, it rules out "a period of ten years starting and ending in zero" leaving us with 1995-2004.

The phrase "than in the prior" should mean 1985-1994 since this would be "a ten year period" adjacent to and before the 1995-2004 decade.

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