Math Basics

All About Numbers

What are the various scales used by countries to label big numbers?

Not every country labels the highest numbers in the same way. Depending on the country, they use either the short scale or the long scale. The short scale is taught in American school systems, thus it is thought to be used exclusively in the United States. Other countries, including most of continental Europe, use the long scale. And several countries, including China, have large number naming systems that are even different than the long and short scales.

For example, in the American system, denominations above 1,000 million (or the American billion) are 1,000 times the preceding one (for example, one trillion is 1,000 billion; one quadrillion is 1,000 trillion). In the British system, the first denomination above 1,000 milliards (the British billion) is 1,000,000 times the preceding one (for example, one trillion is 1,000,000 billion; one quadrillion is 1,000,000 trillion). The American system is based on the French system, which the French ironically no longer follow. Their larger number names now correspond to the British system, as do those of many other countries in Europe.

American Name British Name Number (in powers of ten)
billion milliard 109
trillion billion 1012
quadrillion 1015
quintillion trillion 1018
sextillion 1021
septillion quadrillion 1024
octillion 1027
nonillion quintillion 1030
decillion 1033
undecillion sextillion 1036
duodecillion 1039
tredecillion septillion 1042
quattuordecillion 1045
quindecillion octillion 1048
sexdecillion 1051
septdecillion nonillion 1054
octodecillion 1057
novemdecillion decillion 1060
vigintillion 1063
undecillion 1066
duodecillion 1072
tredecillion 1078
quattuordecillion 1084
quindecillion 1090
sexdecillion 1096
septendecillion 10102
octodecillion 10108
novemdecillion 10114
vigintillion 10120
centillion 10303
centillion 10600


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Math Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App