Naming of Numbers – Short Scale and Traditional UK Long Scale

Naming of Numbers – Short Scale and Traditional Long Scale

By: Donald Frazer (Egyptology Man) 

I appreciate that many of you reading this will ask what have modern numeracy systems got to do with ancient egypt. Well on the surface very little and in this blog I am not even trying to establish a historic link which is achievable by the way. The reason it is that it is very important to understand the current numeric principles and convensions we use to understand the exact subject matter I will be posting over the coming weeks. The Egyptians were very skilled mathematicians and had an very advanced system they employed to understand the world around them. To really get to grips with this we need to understand exactly what WE mean as well.

The table below is a breakdown of convension we use which are often unknown or at least not well understood and I hope it stands alone as a useful guide and a good reference. 

Name Short scale
USA and Modern UK
Long scale
 Traditional UK, not used much now
one 100 100
ten 101 101
hundred 102 102
thousand 103 103
million 106 106
milliard   109
billion 109 1012
    1015 thousand billion, billiard
trillion 1012 1018
    1021 thousand trillion, trilliard
quadrillion 1015 1024
    1027 thousand quadrillion
quintillion 1018 1030
    1033 thousand quintillion
sextillion 1021 1036
septillion 1024 1042
octillion 1027 1048
nonillion 1030 1054
decillion 1033 1060
undecillion 1036 1066
duodecillion 1039 1072
tredecillion 1042 1078
quattuordecillion 1045 1084
quindecillion (quinquadecillion) 1048 1090
sexdecillion (sedecillion) 1051 1096
septendecillion 1054 10102
octodecillion 1057 10108
novemdecillion (novendecillion) 1060 10114
vigintillion 1063 10120
googol 10100 10100
centillion 10303 10600
googolplex 10googol





For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the United Kingdom uniformly used the long scale, while the United States of America used the short scale, so that usage of the two systems was often referred to as “British” and “American” respectively. In 1974 the government of the UK abandoned the long scale, so that the UK now applies the short scale interpretation exclusively in mass media  and official usage.

Although some residual long-scale usage still continues, the terms “British” and “American” no longer represent accurate terminology. Trigintillion, often cited as a word in discussions of names of large numbers.

I hope this is of use to some people 🙂

Published in: on February 8, 2011 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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