Go to 'thermo-' entry Go to 'dino-' entry Go to 'chondro-' entry Go to 'aero-' entry Go to '-logy' entry Go to 'thaumato-' entry Go to 'nano-' entry Go to '-sophy' entry Go to 'bucco-' entry Go to '-ism' entry Go to '-lysis' entry Go to 'galacto-' entry Go to '-anthropy' entry Go to 'pneumo-' entry Go to '-ploitation' entry Go to '-lithic' entry Go to '-sepalous' entry Go to 'onco-' entry Go to '-parous' entry Go to 'dermato-' entry Go to 'multi-' entry Go to 'dodeca-' entry Go to '-zoon' entry Go to 'vermi-' entry Go to 'crystallo-' entry Go to 'biblio-' entry Go to 'eco-' entry Go to 'juxta-' entry Go to 'facio-' entry
Affixes: the building blocks of English
Affixes: the building blocks of English

Number words

Words for multiples of thousands.

By a curious historical confusion, two different systems for naming large numbers exist, one in the US and the other in Britain and other parts of the English-speaking world. This could be troublesome, but these days such large numbers are much more often given in unambiguous scientific notation, and the US usage is in any case coming to dominate, as it has almost completely with billion.

The original scheme, invented in France in the sixteenth century, started with million and multiplied 1 by that number the required number of times. The name of the unit was then based on the number of multiplications, using Latin numerals. So a sextillion was 1 multiplied by a million six times, making a number expressed by 1 followed by 36 zeroes (1036 in scientific notation). In the eighteenth century French mathematicians changed to multiples of a thousand instead, but took over the existing number names; the Latin numbers then marked one less than the number of multiplications, so that trillion was 1 multiplied by a thousand four times. The US system was based on the thousands scheme, but the British stayed with the older millions one.

The following table gives some names and values in the two systems:

Number word Millions scheme Thousands scheme
million 106 106
billion (Latin bi-, twice) 1012 109
trillion (Latin tres, three) 1018 1012
quadrillion (Latin quattour, four) 1024 1015
quintillion (Latin quinque, five) 1030 1018
sextillion (Latin sex, six) 1036 1021
septillion (Latin septem, seven) 1042 1024
octillion (Latin octo, eight) 1048 1027
nonillion (Latin nonus, ninth) 1054 1030
decillion (Latin decem, ten) 1060 1033

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