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The word decade, whose various meanings are all basically 'a series of 'ten' (Latin decem)', has two different pronunciations.

  • The traditional RP British pronunciation stresses the first syllable, 'DECK-aid', IPA: /'dɛkeɪd/. This was, in 1988, the preference of an overwhelming proportion of English speakers on both sides of the Atlantic (86% of the sample polled in Britain, and 93% in the USA (LPD)). This is always the pronunciation in the case of the prayers of the Roman Catholic rosary, where the group of ten small beads signalling the saying of ten Ave Marias, or Hail Marys, is called 'a decade of the Rosary'. (There are usually fifteen or five decades (the lesser rosary) in a Catholic Rosary. Rosaries in other religions have different numbers of beads, and different prayers to be said at each: in Tibet, for instance, the Buddhist rosary has 108 beads at each of which people praying will prostrate themselves while reciting a prayer; other Buddhists use a rosary of 100 beads.)
  • It is becoming more common to hear the stress on the second syllable of decade, at least in Britain: 'dick- (or dek-) -AID', IPA: /dɪ (or də) 'keɪd/, thus making it a near homophone of the past forms, decayed, of the verb 'to decay'.