zil·​lion·​aire ˌzil-yə-ˈner How to pronounce zillionaire (audio)
: an immeasurably wealthy person

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The word millionaire has been used in English to designate a person who is worth a million pounds or dollars, depending on the side of the ocean, since 1786. We borrowed the word straight from the French, whose millions, of course, were in francs. Millionaire eventually no longer sufficed, and English speakers coined billionaire in 1844. Soon afterwards came multimillionaire, followed by multibillionaire in the early 1900s. Once zillion was made up as a humorous word for an indeterminately large number (patterned on million and billion), it was only a matter of time before zillionaire came along as a humorous word for a person of seemingly immeasurable wealth. Zillion and zillionaire aren't used in the most formal of writing, but they have found their way into plenty of serious publications.

Examples of zillionaire in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The creator of the Hero, a zillionaire tech mogul played by an oily, compelling Walton Goggins, has used his money and copious free time to become a real-life version of his own fictional, authoritarian crime-fighter. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, 6 July 2023 Can a tech zillionaire be funny? Jason Gay, WSJ, 9 May 2021 Disaster strikes when Loretta is kidnaped by eccentric zillionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) who hopes to use her anthropological knowhow to recover an ancient whatsit from a remote jungle island. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 24 Mar. 2022 The mission here is to save the world from its hideous near-future and to prevent time travel from being invented and exploited, for personal gain, by the all-powerful tech zillionaire played by Catherine Keener. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, 10 Mar. 2022 Among the tech zillionaire classes, a place to bug out in the event of an economic collapse, environmental disaster or violent uprising became the thing to have. Alex Williams, New York Times, 18 Oct. 2019 So, Jenny and Ken are boneheads and still think Fox is Jamie Foxx, because clearly in their world an Oscar-winning zillionaire needs to grovel for minor coins on this trash. Robbie Daw, Billboard, 19 Dec. 2019 Gwyneth Paltrow plays Payton’s mom with a benevolent glow; the family also includes a gerbil-like zillionaire father (Bob Balaban) and Payton’s two older brothers, a set of toxic jocks with popped collars. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, 24 Sep. 2019 The boy zillionaire saves his parents and Rich Industries from a scheming executive. Los Angeles Times, 11 Aug. 2019 See More

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

Word History


zillion + -aire (as in millionaire)

First Known Use

1946, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of zillionaire was in 1946


Dictionary Entries Near zillionaire

Cite this Entry

“Zillionaire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zillionaire. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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