Million vs. Billion vs. Trillion

What really is a million, or a billion? Pat Singleton, a friend from BPW, put this into perspective for me in terms I could really grasp.

  • 1 million seconds equal 11 and 1/2 days.
  • 1 billion seconds equal 31 and 3/4 years.
  • 1 trillion seconds equal 31,710 years.

About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

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  1. says

    This post has been one of our most popular. I’m not sure why so many people search for “million vs. billion”. I hope Pat’s example is helpful in picturing the huge size of these numbers.

    You may also be interested in the differences in the American and European definitions of million, billion and trillion. The best one I found is Names for Large Numbers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    In Pat’s example:
    * million = 1,000,000
    * billion = 1,000,000,000
    * trillion = 1,000,000,000,000

  2. Anonymous says

    It’s probably popular due to the difference between the imperial (US) and metric (rest of world) naming conventions – that’s what landed me here :)