goo·​gol ˈgü-ˌgȯl How to pronounce googol (audio)
: the figure 1 followed by 100 zeros equal to 10100

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Google vs. Googol

The verb google and the noun googol are commonly confused because they have similar pronunciations. Google is the word that is more common to us now, and so it is sometimes mistakenly used as a noun to refer to the number 10100. That number is a googol, so named by Milton Sirotta, the nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner, who was working with large numbers like 10100. Google, on the other hand, is the name of a search engine as well as a verb that refers to searching the Internet using the Google search engine. (The search engine’s name was inspired by the number: the founders of Google chose the name to reflect their mission “to organize a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web.”) You can remember that the number is spelled googol by remembering that a googol has lots of o’s.

Two related words, googolplex and googleplex, are also commonly confused. A googolplex is the number 1 followed by a googol of zeros; the Googleplex is the Mountain View, California headquarters of Google.

Did you know?

Around 1930, American mathematician Edward Kasner found himself working with numbers as large as 10 to the 100th power - that's a one followed by 100 zeroes. While it is possible to write that number using standard scientific notation, Dr. Kasner felt that it deserved a name of its own. According to his own account, Dr. Kasner asked his nine-year-old nephew, Milton Sirotta, to pick a name, promising the boy that he would use the word in the future. Milton made up the word googol, and so the enormous number was christened. Dr. Kasner kept his promise, and the word has spread and been widely adopted by mathematicians and the general public alike.

Examples of googol in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Over the unimaginable course of a googol years (1 followed by 100 zeros), black holes will swallow every last bit of matter, then boil away in a process known as Hawking radiation, leaving behind a sea of massless photons. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 14 Mar. 2023 There are an infinite number of integers, and there are only a finite number of integers between zero and a googol; that doesn't make the former set somehow ontologically heavier. Sean Carroll, Discover Magazine, 4 June 2012 There is a googol, which is a one followed by one hundred zeroes. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 19 Oct. 2022 There is also a googolplex, a number that can only be theoretically written, which is one raised to the power of googol. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 19 Oct. 2022 Google is a play on the word googol, the term for the numeral one followed by 100 zeroes. CNN, 9 Mar. 2022 Googology comes from googol, the most famous, and smallest, of the really big numbers. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 June 2020 Google takes its name from the number googol, which is a 1 followed by one hundred zeroes. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, 27 Sep. 2017

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

Word History


coined by Milton Sirotta born about 1929 nephew of Edward Kasner †1955 American mathematician

First Known Use

1937, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of googol was in 1937


Dictionary Entries Near googol

Cite this Entry

“Googol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


goo·​gol ˈgü-ˌgȯl How to pronounce googol (audio)
: a very large number that is expressed in numerals as 1 followed by one hundred 0's

coined by Milton Sirotta, age 9, and first used by his uncle Edward Kasner 1878–1955 American mathematician

Word Origin
The term googol was invented by a nine-year-old boy. In the late 1930s an American mathematician, Edward Kasner, asked his nephew, Milton Sirotta, to think up a word for a very big number, in particular, the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. The boy came up with the word googol. The term was then used by Kasner and other mathematicians and scientists, and so it became part of the language.
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