billion

noun

bil·​lion ˈbi(l)-yən How to pronounce billion (audio)
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
billion adjective
billionth adjective or noun

Did you know?

How much is a billion? It might depend on whom 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 1 followed by 12 zeros. However, the French later changed their naming conventions so that a billion became a thousand million (a 1 followed by 9 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 At the time of the collapse, it was believed that billions of dollars worth of customer deposits in FTX would likely never be recovered. Rocio Fabbro, Quartz, 8 May 2024 In the past, states like Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin have even outright rejected billions in federal rail funding, scuttling many of the plans Amtrak had for repairs. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 6 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for billion 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'billion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1690, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of billion was in 1690

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Dictionary Entries Near billion

Cite this Entry

“Billion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/billion. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

billion

noun
bil·​lion ˈbil-yən How to pronounce billion (audio)
1
: a number equal to 1,000 million : 1,000,000,000 see number
2
: a very large number
billion adjective
billionth adjective or noun

More from Merriam-Webster on billion

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