Archive for September 4th, 2009

Some thoughts on oughts and naughts

Friday, September 4th, 2009

My deer rifle is a 30-06.   It’s the same calibre that Tom Waits sang about in his song “16 shells from a thirty-ought-six”.

The designation 30-06 means that it uses a 0.30 inch calibre bullet and it was first manufactured in 1906. A hundred years ago apparently it was common for the number “zero” to be referred to as “ought”, hence the “ought-six”.

Of course the use of “ought” is a misnomer; a more proper term for zero would be “naught”.  However I can’t imagine referring to my rifle as a “thirty-naught-six”.

And of course there’s the question of which decade followed the nineties.  Most would agree that the eighties were followed by the nineties, but are we now in the oughts, the naughts, or some other decade?  Maybe the zilches?