US vs UK millions, billions and trillions

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acw | 18:08 Mon 18th Jul 2005 | Business & Finance
15 Answers

I'm hoping to find number bods/mathematicians in this topic section. 

Am I correct in thinking that:

UK Billion = 1 + 12x0

UK trillion = 1 + 18x0

US trillion = 1 + 12x0


If so - what's a US billion?

I'm trying to compare stats from the two countries and I need to get it right!  At the moment I'm just confused.  Any clarification would be very welcome.  Thank you.

PS - I have looked on Google. 


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I think what you have said is correct, at least historically.  A billion (US) is 1 followed by 9 noughts, and this is now the accepted value of a billion in the UK as well - certainly when it comes to financial matters.
Gnu is correct a UK generally use the same billion in financial matters although historically a UK Billion had 12 0's it is generally accepted to be 1000 million now.
Question Author

Right - I think I've got it - thanks guys!

I'm using data issued in recent months and published in the Economist and similar publications. 

I basically want to write "Costs estimated at $1.4 trillion, or �X.X Xion" if you see what I mean!!  Perhaps one or both of you could suggest the conversion.  I can convert the 1.4 using this but I'm still stumped on the zeroes/zeros. 

As you can probably tell, I'm really not a numbers kinda girl!!

Thanks for your help! 3***s each! :-)

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Value               UK word      US word
1,000,000         million         million
1,000,000,000   milliard        billion
1x10^12            billion          trillion
1x10^15            billiard         quadrillion
1x10^18            trillion          quintillion
1x10^21            trilliard         sextillion
1x10^24            quadrillion    septillion
1x10^27            quadrilliard   octillion
1x10^30            quintillion     nonillion
1x10^33            quintilliard    decillion
1x10^63            decilliard      vingtillion
1x10^120          vingtillion      trente-neufillion?

Ok well using your link $1.4 = �0.804860 so if it's trillion we have to move the decimal point 12 places if it's billion we have to move the decimal point 9 places. For explanation lets start with million we move the decimal point 6 places So:

�1.4million = $804860 see I moved the . to the right 6 places

So for Billion I move the place another 3 but I have no more digits so I insert zeroes so:

�1.4billion = $804860000

Similarly for trillion I need to move a further 3 places so:

�1.4trillion = $804860000000

often written with commas


So in words 1.4 trillion pounds = 804 billion, 860 million dollars. Or to round you could say:

�1.4trillion = $0.8trillion

NOTE pedants as this is financial I am using US billion and trillion ok!

Question Author


Loosehead, I'm very flattered and impressed that you took so much time to explain - thank you.  I was taught the decimal point moving rule but I just still get lost. 

I'll follow your example now to do the calculation I wanted which was a US $1.4tr to �sterling and UK abbreviations. 

Thank you though! :-)

Using the US convention (as we all do now) the way to remember the value of each of the '-illions' is to start with 1000 and then each '-illion' is a multiple by a factor of 1000 (mille) thus:

Million - 1000 x 1000
Billion  - 1000 x (bi=2)mille  or 1000�
Trillion - 1000 x (tri=3)mille  or 1000�


To remember the number of zeroes add 1 to the translation of the '-illion' prefix and multiply by 3

Quintillion - (5+1) x3 = 18
Nonillion  -  (9+1) x3 = 30

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