four score and seven years ago

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Literally, 87 years ago (score sense: “group of 20”) the beginning of the Gettysburg Address made on November 19, 1863, by United States President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).[1] The widespread familiarity of Lincoln’s address, the unusual and poetic wording, and its status as the first words of the speech have caused the phrase to enter the public consciousness.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈfɔː skɔː‿ɹən ˌsɛvən jɪəz əˌɡəʊ/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈfɔɹ skɔɹ ən ˌsɛvən jɪɹz əˌɡoʊ/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: four score and se‧ven years ago


four score and seven years ago (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic, often humorous) Used (sometimes sarcastically) to indicate that a past event being mentioned is particularly important: a long time ago; many years ago.
    • 1936 April 16, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Address at the Dedication of the New Department of the Interior Building[1]:
      It was established four score and seven years ago, and since that time its activities have been intertwined with the internal development of the Nation itself.
    • 2010 December 23, Phillip Roth, “Prologue”, in The Great American Novel[2], →ISBN, page 21:
      I imagined momentarily that it was four score and seven years ago, that I had just been brought forth from my mother []
    • 2012 February 20, Vicky DeCoster, “The Letter”, in The Wacky World of Womanhood[3], →ISBN, page 93:
      Four score and seven years ago, I began writing an annual letter to be enclosed in my Christmas cards.

Alternative forms[edit]



  1. ^ Abraham Lincoln (19 November 1863) Dedicatory Remarks (Gettysburg Address, Nicolay draft): “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that ‘all men are created equal’[sic]

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