How Long Is a Score in Years? [and Why It’s Called a Score]

The most popular use of the term ‘score’ is in Lincoln’s speech in Gettysburg. Nowadays, a ‘score’ as a measurement of time is rarely used. People are more acquainted with the term ‘decade.’ If a decade is 10 years, how long is a score?

A score is 20 years long. The term ‘score’ originated from the Old Norse term ‘skor,’ meaning notch, mark, or incision in rock. It also originated from the Old English term ‘scoru,’ meaning ‘twenty.’ 

The term score may also have come from the Proto-Germanic term ‘skur,’ meaning to cut. Also, one score has come from the practice of counting sheep or cattle from one to twenty and marking a notch or ‘score’ on a stick. Another 20 sheep are counted, and a new notch is marked anew. Therefore, each mark or ‘score’ on the stick represents 20 sheep.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg address used the term, “Four score and seven years ago…” He referred to 87 years from his speech date (four score is 80 years, plus 7). Lincoln made the speech in 1863, so he referred to 1776 when the U.S. declared its independence.

Read on to learn more about the term ‘score,’ its meaning, origin, and uses.

How Long Is a Score?

how long is a score

A score is equal to 20 years. The term originated from old Nordic and English terms, ‘skor’ and ‘scuro,’ respectively. These terms refer to the number twenty. 

Why Is It Called a Score?

In the Bible, the term ‘score’ was often used. The use of the term gradually diminished as languages changed and took on newer terms. Why is it called a score?


The root word of ‘score’ is a Norse word for incision – ‘skor.’ Skor refers to cuts or incisions made on a stick to keep a tally. Twenty cuts usually fill the stick. 


The English term ‘score’ originated from this Norse word. In Iceland, a score is twenty too, from the term ‘skur’ from ‘sker,’ meaning to cut. 


The term ‘score’ was also used in vigesimalism, an old French counting method. This method counts large numbers of items, such as sheep, using a notch in a stick for each 20. 

In addition, the French word ‘vint’ refers to twenty. People use a multiple of it as a base, as in ‘vint et doze,’ which represents 32, or ‘dous vinz et diz,’ which represents 50. 

Previously, the Irish, Welsh, and Gaelic people used vigesimalism. This method was later picked up by the French and English. [1]

The Germanic word signifies a straight mark, such as a line or scratch drawn by a sharp instrument. In English, in the 1400s, score denotes marks made on a chalkboard or wall to keep count of a customer’s drinks in a pub. 

The term also applied to the ‘innkeepers bill.’ This was the source of the expression ‘settle scores’ that became popular in 1775. 

By the 1670s, people made a score mark to record a point in a game. Then in 1701, a score was used to denote a printed music piece. In 1927, a score represented music composed for films. 

New Meaning

In 1951, score acquired a new meaning, that of acquiring narcotic drugs. This term gave the word ‘score’ a negative connotation. But it evolved into the 20th century with more positive meanings, such as test score, video game score, music score, movie score, and sports game score.

What is a score unit of time? We can further define score as a unit of time with the table below:

TermEquivalent Time
1 minute60 seconds
1 ostent6 minutes
1 hour60 minutes or 3,600 seconds
1 solar day24 hours or 1,000 swatch beats
1 week7 days
1 fortnight14 days
1 vinal20 days
1 lunar month29.531 days
1 financial month30 days
1 nodical month27.212 days
1 quarter91.3125 days
1 tun (financial year)360 days
1 year365 days
1 solar year365.242 days
1 leap year366 days
1 decade10 solar years
1 katun7,200 days
1 score20 solar years
1 generation30 solar years
1 century100 solar years
1 millennium1,000 solar years
1 bismuth half-life2000042716454701.5

How Do You Convert Score in Time Units?

how long is a score of years

It is easy to convert scores to years if you know the Conversion Factor (CF). The Conversion Factor is 20; 1 score is equivalent to 20 years. All you have to do is multiply the number of scores by 20, and you can get the number of years.

The general formula is: S x C = E [2]


  • S = starting value
  • CF = conversion factor
  • E = converted result


How many years are 5 score and 5 years? 


5 score x 20 (CF) = 100 years + 5 years = 105 years (answer)

If you have to convert the years to solar days, you will have to multiply the number of years with the conversion factor, which is; 1 year = 365 solar days.

105 years x 365 (CF) = 38,325 days (answer) 

Consequently, when you are asked the number of scores and the number of years is a given, you have to divide instead of multiply. 


How many scores are there in 38,325 days?


  • 38,325/365 days (1 year) = 105 years
  • 105 years/20 years = 5.25 score 

How long is a score in time? A score is 20 years. The origin of the term ‘score’ is presumed to have come from the old practice of counting large herds of cattle or sheep. They count the cattle from 1 to 20 and mark a ‘score’ or notch on a stick. One mark is made for every group of 20. 

A 5-notch mark or ‘score’ on the stick would then denote 100 sheep or cattle. This practice has made counting easier and more convenient during the olden times.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Meaning and Origin of the Expression: ‘Threescore and Ten”?

In the olden days, threescore was often used to express the number 60. The origin of the expression threescore and ten dates back to the Bible, such as:

  • Thre scoor and sixe daies,” from John Wyclif’s Bible, Leviticus 12 [3]
  • …threescore and ten bullocks, …” referring to offerings to the Lord in the Bible.
  • “The days of our years are threescore years and ten…” This verse in Psalms 90 refers to the nominal span of human life, 70 years. 
  • “Threescore and ten I can remember well…” This is from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which follows the Bible’s terms.

How Long Is a Score of Years?

A score in time is two decades or 20 years. The score is a quantitative term, like ‘dozen’ or ‘gross.’ The term is also often used in the Bible. As to how long is a score in the Bible is, Psalm 90:10 has given the correct meaning. 

Psalm 90:10 states that the life span of as: ‘the days of our years are threescore years and ten.’ If a score is 20 years, the meaning of this verse is 70 years. 

Whether the score refers to time or years, it is equivalent to 20 years. In the typical language, we call it two decades or simply 20 years.

So how long is a score of years? A score of years is 20 years. An example is when you say ‘four score and seven years”, you refer to 87 years. The answer is 87 years because four score is equivalent to (4 x 20) = 80 years + 7 years = 87 years.

What Is a Score in Measurement?

A score in measurement is a group of twenty things/units that are often combined with a cardinal number. Examples are twoscore, threescore, and fourscore. 

A score could also be an indefinitely large number, as to how it used in this sentence: ‘Health authorities confined scores of COVID 19 patients.’

The simplest score in measurement equates to one score with twenty. An example is ‘a score of boxes.’ The score is widely used in measuring days or years, though, and not in counting items. 

What Is the Relationship Between Score and Decade?

One score is equivalent to two decades. So, when people say one score and one decade, they mean 20 years and 10 years, for a total of 30 years.

You can easily convert the score to decades by remembering the score’s Conversion Factor to a decade, divided by 10. An example is when you convert 30 scores to decades – all you have to do is divide 30 by 10, and you get 3 decades.

What Are Decades and Dozens?

The use of threescore has disappeared through time as terms like ‘decade’ and ‘dozen’ surfaced. These terms led to ‘gross’ and small ‘gross.’

A decade represents 10 years, and a dozen is equivalent to 12 years or units. People use the term ‘decade’ more often when referring to years and the term ‘dozen’ when referring to items. 

‘Gross’ refers to 12 dozen units, while ‘small gross’ refers to 10 dozen. A ‘big gross’ refers to 12 grosses.

  • 1 decade = 10 years; 3 decades = 30 years
  • 1 dozen = 12 items; 3 dozens = 36 items
  • 1 gross = 12 dozens
  • One small gross = 10 dozens
  • 1 big gross = 144 dozens (12 grosses)

Other Meanings of Score

Score in School or Testing

how long is a score in time

The result of a test or exam. A person’s score sometimes uses ‘raw score’ when the score has not yet been transmuted. School scores are often transmuted to a percentage form, with the half raw score of the total numbers transmuted to 75%.

Some schools may make their passing score higher than half of the total points. Fifty over 100 may be 75% in many schools, but 65/100 may be equivalent to 75% in some schools. So, the value of 75% is inconsistent.

Standard Score

This is derived from the raw score, where the average and mean scores are computed to establish a standard score. Various factors are affecting the standard score that scorers have to consider.

Score in Music

This is a piece of sheet music where the musician vertically aligns the simultaneous parts. The score also means a piano or vocal score that combines the keyboard arrangement and the song. You can conveniently read the notes or piano keys using this music score.

Score in Films

Score in films is the original music songwriters create for a film. The score usually complements the theme of the movie. You can predict the movie’s theme or plot just by listening to the musical score.

Score in Sports

Score in sports is the number of points garnered in a sporting event. A reliable scoring method is crucial in scoring opposing teams.

Score in Games

In games, this refers to the number of points garnered in a game, other than sports games.

Score in Statistics

This is the gradient of the likelihood function subject to sampling errors or the quantity of the observations or results. 

Score in Video Games

Same with films, this is the music that accompanies the game. A video game’s score varies based on the game type.

Score in Theater

It means theater music with lyrics and accompaniment. It is similar to a movie score.

Score Sheet

A score sheet is a record of an ongoing chess game. The audience can see who is leading in the chess game because of this score sheet.

Score Bug

This pertains to a TV graphic displayed during a sporting event broadcast. This score bug is what TV audiences typically view online.


Score is also an interjection of happiness, like, Score! Yay!


This acronym stands for many terms. The most popular is the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE is a common acronym in the business world.

New meanings have stemmed from the evolution of the word ‘score.’ For many people, the old meaning will remain a measure of time.

Conclusion – How Long Is a Score in Years?

A score is equivalent to 20 years. Lincoln’s speech in 1863 which included “four score and seven years ago,” was referencing 87 years ago, back in 1776. The origin of one score referring to 20 is presumed to have come from the practice of counting sheep from 1 to 20 and making a ‘score’ or notch on a stick. Then the next 20 is counted anew.

Nowadays, score as a measurement of time is no longer popularly used. Most people use decade, millennium, or years. Learning about the time length of a score is valuable information that everyone should know. Now, you would know when someone describes your lifespan as threescore and ten.