Words by the Decade

Yesterday was Shakespeare’s 457th birthday, which got me thinking about a few things. 

I don’t want to die. Like most people, I find Earth to lack a certain something, but I often refuse to give the next destination a proper shot. This helpful mental fodder eventually gave way to a tincture of gerascophobia, which begot an unwelcome dose of thanatophobia. But how many decades does one really have in pursuit such old-fashioned fun? What started as a healthy trifle of harmless Anglophilia logically progressed into a healthy death-based potion of etymological arithmomania.

Much as the objects of phobia, fondness, and obsession are denoted above, decade words are created by splicing a combining form and a suffix. In the case of decade words, the combining form denotes the cardinal number of each decade and the suffix, -arian, designates a person who is or does something (contrarian, librarian, Rastafarian, humanitarian, vegetarian). 

Decade words have been deemed too sophisticated for souls under forty. But the English language has you covered from there.

Quadragenarian: quadr(i) (four): those in their forties 

Quinquagenarian: Quinqu(e) (five): those in their fifties

Sexagenarian: Sex (six): those in their sixties

Septuagenarian: Sept(i) (seven): those in their seventies 

Octogenarian: Octo (eight): those in their eighties

Nonagenarian: Nona (nine): those in their nineties (not to be confused with the English word nonage: the period of immaturity or youth…perhaps this could be used for all ages under forty)

Centenarian: cent(i)=hundred(th): Ouch

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