Did people of the 19th Century refer to there periods in slang?

Eg ‘the 70s’ ‘the 80s’ etc?

Or is this just a gimmicy buzz word used by music corporations?

Off topic, but: the thread preview/hint was very helpful here. This is not at all what I thought this was going to be about when I saw the thread title. I am happy to have been wrong.
Carry on.

I have no cites, but I’ve seen the 1890’s referred to as the “Gay Nineties”.

Use of numbers to refer to decades has nothing to do with oldies stations on the radio. It far precedes that.

At least to 1925, the year that this Maven’s Word of the Day site says that “Gay Nineties” was coined.*

I thought that the Roaring 20s were called that during the decade. But the movie of that name didn’t come out until 1939. And Frederick Lewis Allen’s classic Only Yesterday, specifically about the decade of the 1920s and written in 1930, doesn’t appear to use the phrase, at least not at a quick glance.

I can’t think of any contemporary accounts I’ve read from the 19th century that referenced a decade as such, but samclem is the expert on such things.

But this use goes back at least 75 years and was in place well before World War II.

*Sticklers will quibble with their early references about the word “gay” as homosexual, but I don’t think that affects the Gay Nineties cite.

I would have agreed with Exapno before I went looking. I wasn’t cognizant of reading that kind of construction in old news accounts. But I was wrong, I guess.

From a 1900 newspaper account of a student’s time at Harvard: “The pranks that were played upon the freshmen in the seventies.”

Another starts out–“In the seventies, we boarded the steamer Far West…”

And I could go on and on in this vein, about the seventies, eighties, sixties, etc.

I lived through both the 'roaring twenties’and the 'flapper fanny period’which followed the ‘gay nineties’ by 20 years +.

Believe me----they were known by those terms in their own time.

And a darned good time was had by all who had the time and the money.

My only regret is that I was “Just a kid” in the twenties-----and that prevented me from joining in on the festivities, as seen from the banisters on the stairs…

Their were terms also for the thirties-----none of them catchy and all of them impolite.

There might be ladies present so I’ll not elaborate


The “Roaring Twenties” was amazingly used about itself as early as 1923. And it wasn’t just one isolated usage I found. The decade must have come in like a lion…

No one has yet antedated the mid-1920’s coinage of “Gay Nineties.”

Hmmm. Does this mean that the phrasiers (look, a coinage) of the period liked how Roaring Twenties went over, and decided to go back and name other decades?

It may be related that Belle Epoque France was getting a similar nostalgia workout in the aftermath of WWI.