Submitted by Dyske  •  March 18, 2003

20 Something

I was under the impression that “20 something” meant someone in his/her early 20s. Would a 29 year old be still considered “20 something”? When did this expression start?

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It could depend on the perspective. If I'm talking about someone else and am asked what that person's age is, and I don't know for sure, I could say, "20-something." If I am that person and don't want to admit being 29, I would say, "20-something."

With the old TV show, I thought it meant in their 30s, but they prefer not to be more specific.

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it would include people that fall inbetween of 20 -29|

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20-something means you are from age 20-29 as 300something means 30-39

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There was a television programme called 'thirty something'. All the main characters in it were between 20 and 30.

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today, as I turn 25, still will use 20-something. I suppose a 29 year old could technically use 20-something.

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Naturally, I would assume that the companion expression "30 something" came before the TV show of the same name, but I believe that in that case, "30 something" would be skewed toward the latter end of the age group, since they don't want to say they are 36 or so, and would rather people think they might be 31. (whatever).

Anyway, intuitively, "20 something" means anything in 21-29 (since 20 has no "something" after it)... but since I don't know the origin of the phrase either, the original coiner could have intended the early 20's.

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Joe and Nina raise good points. My impression of the "thirty something" phrase was originally that it described a relatively amorphous group of around the same age (or decade of age) that acted and thought and consumed in similar ways. Thirty something was basically synonymous with yuppies, as I remember it being used. I think now it has devolved through common usage to its more mundane meaning, i.e., as Nina or Joe suggest, anyone 20-29.

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