billion

play
noun bil·lion \ˈbi(l)-yən\

Definition of billion

  1. 1 US :  a number equal to 1,000 million — see number table; also, British :  a number equal to 1,000 milliard — see number table

  2. 2 :  a very large number

billion

adjective

billionth

play \-yən(t)th\ adjective or noun

billion was our Word of the Day on 03/23/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of billion in a Sentence

  1. We could see a billion stars in the sky.

Recent Examples of billion from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of billion

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


First Known Use: 1690



BILLION Defined for English Language Learners

billion

play
noun

Definition of billion for English Language Learners

  • : the number 1,000,000,000 : one thousand million

  • : a very large amount or number

  • : the number 1,000,000,000,000


BILLION Defined for Kids

billion

play
noun bil·lion \ˈbil-yən\

Definition of billion for Students

  1. 1 :  a thousand millions

  2. 2 :  a very large number billions of stars



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