What is the numerical difference between a billion and a million (billion vs million)?

When you use the term “billion” or “million”, only one thing comes to mind which is numbers. A billion is a larger number than a million as it comprises nine zeros in total compared to a million with six zeros.

When someone says they make six figures in a year, they are talking about earning an annual salary of one or more million.

Million and billion is used generally in our everyday lives. They can be used, especially in finance or education. The world’s population is currently at over 8 billion, with more than a billion people living in China and India.

How much is really in a billion compared to a million? The answer is a “lot” and you will be surprised to know how much you need to earn and the number of years before you get to a billion.

We will also be discussing the difference in numerical value, abbreviation and lots more.

## What Is a Billion?

A billion is a large number, a milliard, a thousand million or 10^{9}. It’s a word for a large number and generally, it has two different definitions.

A billion is one thousand million or 10^{9} (ten to the ninth power). This is the first definition and the only current meaning of a billion in English.

Also known as a milliard, a billion is one million million- one followed by twelve zeros or 10^{12}. 10^{12 }is one thousand times larger than the short-scale billion and it’s currently called one trillion in English.

One followed by twelve zeros or 10^{12 }is the meaning of the word “billion” in English. This meaning of billion was still used in British English until after 1945.

A billion i.e. 1,000,000,000 or 10^{9 }is defined on the short scale, while a billion i.e. 1,000,000,000,000 or 10^{12 }is defined on the long scale.

The long-scale definition was used by the United Kingdom until 1974. Then, the United Kingdom government decided to officially switch to the short scale.

In addition, American English also adopted the short-scale definition of billion. It was adopted from the French, who were also using it at the time with the long-scale definition of a billion.

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### History of a Billion

The Oxford English Dictionary states that the word “Billion” originated in the 16^{th} century. It was formed from million and the prefix bi “two” which means the 2^{nd} power of a million- i.e. 1,000,000^{2}.

**According to Wikipedia**, the words entered English at the end of the 1600s but were originally Latin. The words meaning were later changed by French arithmeticians. They adopted the short-scale definition of a billion.

Instead of adding six zeros, three were added at each step, hence a billion was denoted as a thousand million (or 10^{9}).

## What Is a Million?

A million is a large number, one thousand thousand or 10^{6}.

The word “million” originated from the early Italian word “millione” or “milione” in modern Italian.

A million is usually abbreviated in British English as “m”. This is quite different from the metric prefix “m” which means milli for 10-3 or meter. It should not also be confused with “M” or “MM” which means “thousand thousand” from Latin Mille. Or with the Roman numeral of 2,000 which is “mm”.

Just so you know, a million is written as 1 X 10^{6 }or 10^{6 }in scientific notation. It can also be expressed in physical quantities by using the SI prefix mega- for example 1 megawatts (1 MW) which equals 1,000,000 watts or 10^{6 }watts.

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## Billion vs Million: How Much Is a Billion?

When comparing a billion vs a million, it’s important to understand the huge difference between the two.

A billion is a large number, a milliard, a thousand million or 10^{9}. It’s a word for a large number and generally, it has two different definitions. Just like the million is abbreviated with “M” , billion is also abbreviated with a “B” which is globally accepted and used to describe numbers in their billions.

Let’s look at some facts to clearly understand how large a billion is. These facts will surprise you.

### Facts

- #1. A billion seconds is approximately 3.17 years
- #2. The value of a billion minutes is about 1,902 years
- #3. A billion hours is about 114,078 years
- #4. A billion dollars arranged in $100 bills will weigh close to 22 tons
- #5. If you earn $10,000 per day, it will take you 275 years to make a billion dollars

## How Much Is a Million?

A million is a large number, one thousand thousand or 10^{6}. A million is in six figures, considerably a large number but not to be compared with a billion.

A million is globally abbreviated and recognized with an “M”. The world’s population is currently at over 8 billion with just two countries with a population of over 1.4 billion (India and China).

You can only imagine the space a billion people would occupy if they ever had to come together in one place. I bet a billion people gathered in one place will be visible from the International Space Station.

But let’s look at a few facts to better understand how large of a number a million is.

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### Facts

- #1. A million seconds is approximately 11.5 days
- #2. A million minutes is a time of one year and months.
- #3. The value of a million hours is a time of 144 years
- #4. If you stack a million dollars in $100 bills, it will weigh 22 pounds
- #5. If you earn $10,000 per day, it will take you three and a half months to make a million dollars.

## Billion vs Million: Comparison Chart

Million | Billion | |

Meaning | A million is a large number, one thousand thousand or 10^{6 }. | A billion is large number, a milliard, a thousand million or 10^{9}. |

Numerical value | 1,000,000 | 1,000,000,000 |

Abbreviation | M | B |

Order of magnitude | 6 | 9 |

Originated from | From the early Italian word “millione” or “milione” in modern Italian | Derived from the French “bi-“ which means the 2^{nd} power of a million- i.e. 1,000,000^{2}. |

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### Other Large Number

The following are large numbers, even larger than a million and a billion.

- Million = 1,000,000 or 10
^{6} - Billion = 1,000,000,000 or 10
^{9} - Trillion = 1,000,000,000,000 or 10
^{12} - Quadrillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000 or 10
^{15} - Quintillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 10
^{18} - Sextillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 10
^{21} - Nonillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 10
^{30}

## Conclusion

A million is a large number but a billion is much larger than a million, a million million or 10^{9}. The difference between a million and a billion is incredibly huge.

We have shown you the value of a billion seconds and how long earning $10,000 per day can get to one billion dollars. Compared to the numbers we have listed in this guide, a billion is even a small number with nine zeros.

We hope this article on the difference between a billion and a million was helpful.

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## References

- GeeksforGeeks: Million vs. Billion
- Wikipedia: Billion
- Wikipedia: Million

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