So just how big is a trillion anyway?
With all these trillions of dollars that banks have misplaced and central banks are throwing around, it’s getting difficult to keep track of the money. We used to talk in terms of millions, and sometimes billions. But these amounts now seem somehow inadequate, paltry almost. The new paradigm is trillion (preferably in pounds, but even dollars will do).
What is a trillion? The modern* trillion is a million million (1,000,000,000,000 or 10 to the power of 12).
Just to recap:
- million: one thousand thousand (1,000,000) [pathetic!]
- billion: one thousand million (1,000,000,000) [so 20th-century]
- trillion: one million million (1,000,000,000,000) [a sensible figure to lose]
but wait for it…
- quadrillion: one thousand trillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) [you’ll need this soon for the hyperinflation that’s coming]
* the “modern” trillion is American English and now used in British English. In old British English a trillion was a million million million (1,000,000,000,000,000,000)—a truly handsome figure that even Hank hasn’t managed to get his sticky fingers around yet.
By Josef Essberger for EnglishClub October 2008
Josef started teaching English as a foreign language in 1991 and founded EnglishClub for learners and teachers in 1997.
I can’t think about trillions, but we can dream about that …