Aught or Aughts – Usage & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Isn’t aught such a strange-looking word? Some think it’s not even a real word. But I assure you it is. But is it aught or aughts? And how do you use it in a sentence? I’ll break it all down in a simple way right here in this quick guide.

What Does Aught Mean?

Aught or Aughts Usage Meaning 1

The pronoun “aught” has two primary meanings in the English language.

  1. It can mean “anything” or “anything at all.” Here’s an example, “Dave cares for aught (anything) but his own well-being.” This shows that Dave cares for others before himself.
  2. It can also refer to the digit zero, especially in reference to years or numerical sequences, like “the aughts (the 2000s).”

What about the word “naught“? Some say it’s the same as “aught” and can be used interchangeably, but that’s not really the case. “Aught” means anything or anything at all, but “naught” means nothing.

So, if you took that first sentence and swapped out “aught” for “naught,” you’d have, “Dave care for naught (nothing) but his own well-being.” This shows that Dave is selfish and only cares about himself. See how both words can create different contexts.

Aught vs. Aughts

Aught or Aughts Usage Meaning

“Aught” and “aughts” are related but have their own distinct meanings. As I mentioned earlier, “aught” can also mean the same as the word “anything,” or it can be used to show the digit zero.

But then, “aughts” with an S at the end is a term we use to describe the first decade of a century, like the years 2000 through 2009. You should always use the correct word based on your context.

Is It Ought or Aught?

Sure, at first glance, “ought” and “aught” appear to be pretty similar, which is why they’re often confused. However, they have different meanings and intended uses.

The modal verb “ought” is used to show a duty, an obligation, or some kind of advisability and is usually accompanied by the preposition “to” right after it, as in “You ought to study for the exam.”

But the noun “aught,” as I said before, just refers to “anything” or the digit zero.

Aught Pronunciation

The word “aught” should be pronounced as aw-t, rhyming with “caught” or “cot.”

What Are the Synonyms of Aught?

  • Anything at all
  • Nothing
  • Zero
  • Nought
  • Nil

Aught examples in a Sentence

  • I don’t have aught to say about the matter because I have no knowledge of the topic.
  • The new millennium began in the aughts with high hopes and great uncertainty.
  • The temperature dropped to aught degrees last night, breaking the previous record.
  • The athlete’s dedication to his sport left him without aught else in his life.

Aughts Example in a Sentence

  • Fashion trends of the aughts have made a comeback in recent years, with low-rise jeans and cargo pants being the hot pieces once again.
  • Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter began in the aughts, changing how we communicate and do business.
  • So many popular television series from the aughts, like “Lost” and “The Office,” have a dedicated fanbase that still re-watch the shows today.

Aught, Aughts, or Ought?

Exploring the different meanings of strange words, like “aught,” and learning how it differs from similar words, like “aughts” and “ought,” can help stretch your vocabulary. Check out our other helpful guides on words just like this.

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