bil·​lion | \ ˈbi(l)-yən How to pronounce billion (audio) \

Definition of billion

1 US : a number equal to 1,000 million — see Table of Numbers also, British : a number equal to 1,000 milliard — see Table of Numbers
2 : a very large number

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Other Words from billion

billion adjective
billionth \ ˈbi(l)-​yən(t)th How to pronounce billionth (audio) \ adjective or noun

Did You Know?

How much is a billion? It might depend who you ask. Billion was borrowed from French in the late 1600s to indicate the number one million raised to the power of two, or a million million - a number represented by a one followed by 12 zeros. However, the French later changed their naming conventions so that a billion became a thousand million (a one followed by nine zeros) and a trillion became a thousand thousand million (or a million million, the old billion). The French have since returned to the older system, but it was this new system that was adopted by American English speakers in the 1800s. In Britain the newer system has seen increasing use since the 1950s, but the older sense is still sometimes used there as well.

Examples of billion in a Sentence

We could see a billion stars in the sky.
Recent Examples on the Web Son's extraordinary conviction persuaded investors like Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund to commit billions to form the Vision Fund. Sherisse Pham, CNN, "SoftBank's Masa Son has been humbled but he's not beaten yet," 6 Nov. 2019 However, there is a high likelihood that privacy is not on top of the agenda for the next billion. Payal Arora, Quartz, "The biggest myths about the next billion internet users," 5 Nov. 2019 This year’s fires could add billions to that liability. Phil Matier,, "Everyone wants to fix PG&E. And everyone — taxpayers — will be paying for it," 30 Oct. 2019 A few hundred souls, out of all the billions who have ever lived, have escaped our world, seen it from the outside with their own eyes. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "For All Mankind imagines a space race that leaves fewer people out," 30 Oct. 2019 Wall Street sees Disney losing billions to launch streaming services before earnings rebound in 2024. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, "Disney+ Subscriber Forecasts Raised After Verizon Giveaway Deal," 23 Oct. 2019 In a city like Tokyo with millions of people, the planners’ thousand-year projection might justify spending billions on high-tech flood prevention systems. Ben Dooley, New York Times, "Japan Spent Mightily to Soften Nature’s Wrath, but Can It Ever Be Enough?," 16 Oct. 2019 Yet, how far can all these billions take a company that’s now likely to be at the centre of an investigation over the boy’s death in Delhi? Itika Sharma Punit, Quartz India, "Rats in rooms, poor service, and now electrocution: OYO’s billions haven’t helped it much," 14 Oct. 2019 What about the billions without heat or light or clean water? Robert Colvile, National Review, "The Problem with the Climate Strike’s Leaders," 24 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'billion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of billion

1690, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for billion

French, from bi- + -illion (as in million)

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Statistics for billion

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for billion

The first known use of billion was in 1690

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More Definitions for billion


How to pronounce billion (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of billion

: the number 1,000,000,000 : one thousand million
: a very large amount or number
British, old-fashioned : the number 1,000,000,000,000


bil·​lion | \ ˈbil-yən How to pronounce billion (audio) \

Kids Definition of billion

1 : a thousand millions
2 : a very large number billions of stars

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More from Merriam-Webster on billion

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with billion

Spanish Central: Translation of billion

Nglish: Translation of billion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of billion for Arabic Speakers

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to engage in dissolute behavior

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