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Trillion: Fun Facts, Examples, and Exercises

Trillion: What Does This Huge Number Mean?

You have probably heard the word "trillion" many times, especially when talking about money, debt, or the economy. But do you really know how big this number is? How can you write it, visualize it, or even spend it? In this article, we will explore the meaning and significance of this huge number and help you understand it better.


A trillion is a number with two distinct definitions:


  • 1,000,000,000,000, i.e. one million million, or 10 (ten to the twelfth power), as defined on the short scale. This is now the meaning in both American and British English.

  • 1,000,000,000,000,000,000, i.e. 10 (ten to the eighteenth power), as defined on the long scale. This is one million times larger than the short scale trillion. This is the historical meaning in English and the current use in many non-English-speaking countries where trillion and billion 10 (ten to the twelfth power) maintain their long scale definitions.

In this article, we will use the short scale definition of a trillion, unless otherwise stated.

What is a trillion?

A trillion is a very large number that is hard to comprehend. To put it in perspective, here are some facts and comparisons:

  • A trillion is a thousand billions, or equivalently a million millions.

  • A trillion seconds is about 32,000 years.

  • A trillion pennies stacked on top of each other would make a tower about 870,000 miles high - the same distance obtained by going to the moon, back to Earth, then to the moon again.

  • If you earned $45,000 a year, it would take 22,000 years to amass a fortune of one trillion dollars.

  • If you spent one dollar every second around the clock, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend a trillion dollars.

  • If you divided one trillion dollars equally among the U.S. population of about 330 million people, everyone would receive about $3,030.

How to write a trillion in numbers

A trillion is written with a one followed by 12 zeros. In scientific notation, it can be written as 1 x 10. Here are some examples of how to write a trillion in numbers:

NumberScientific Notation

One trillion1,000,000,000,0001 x 10

Two trillion2,000,000,000,0002 x 10

Ten trillion10,000,000,000,0001 x 10

A hundred trillion100,000,000,000,0001 x 10

A thousand trillion (a quadrillion)1,000,000,000,000,0001 x 10

A million trillion (a quintillion)1,000,000,000,000,0,0,0,0,0, 0,0,01 x 10

A billion trillion (a sextillion)1,000,000,000,000,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,01 x 10

A trillion trillion (a septillion)1,000,000,000,000,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,01 x 10

A quadrillion quadrillion (a googol)10,0,0,...,0,0 (100 zeros)1 x 10

A googolplex (the largest number with a name)10,googol (a one followed by a googol of zeros)1 x 10

A Graham's number (one of the largest numbers ever used in mathematics)Too large to write in conventional notation or even scientific notation. It is defined using a recursive formula involving powers and arrows.N/A

How to visualize a trillion

A trillion is such a huge number that it is hard to imagine what it looks like. However, there are some ways to help you visualize it using familiar objects or concepts. Here are some examples:

  • If you had a trillion dollars in $100 bills and stacked them up, the stack would be about 631 miles high - higher than the orbit of the International Space Station.

  • If you had a trillion grains of sand and spread them evenly over a square mile, the layer would be about 5 inches deep.

  • If you had a trillion stars and arranged them in a cube, each side of the cube would be about 10 light-years long - about the same distance as the nearest star to our sun.

  • If you had a trillion ants and weighed them all together, they would weigh about 3,000 tons - more than twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower.

  • If you had a trillion atoms and magnified them to the size of marbles, they would fill up a room about 12 feet by 12 feet by 12 feet.

  • If you had a trillion seconds and converted them into years, they would equal about 31.7 billion years - more than twice the age of the universe.

How long does it take to spend a trillion dollars?

A trillion dollars is a lot of money that most people will never see in their lifetime. But how long would it take to spend it all if you tried? Well, that depends on how fast you spend it. Here are some scenarios:

  • If you spent one dollar every second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend a trillion dollars.

  • If you spent one million dollars every day, it would take you about 2,740 years to spend a trillion dollars.

  • If you spent one billion dollars every month, it would take you about 83 years to spend a trillion dollars.

  • If you spent one trillion dollars every year, it would take you only one year to spend a trillion dollars.

  • If you spent one trillion dollars every hour, it would take you only 60 minutes to spend a trillion dollars.

  • If you spent one trillion dollars every minute, it would take you only one second to spend a trillion dollars.


A trillion is a huge number that is hard to grasp, write, visualize, or spend. It is a thousand billions, or a million millions. It is written with a one followed by 12 zeros, or as 1 x 10 in scientific notation. It can be compared to various objects, concepts, or scenarios to help us understand its magnitude. However, no matter how we try to imagine it, a trillion is still beyond our everyday experience and intuition.


What is bigger than a trillion?

There are many numbers that are bigger than a trillion. The next ones in the short scale are quadrillion (10), quintillion (10), sextillion (10), septillion (10), and so on. The largest number with a name is googolplex, which is 10 raised to the power of googol (10). However, there is no limit to how large numbers can get, and mathematicians have invented various ways to describe and manipulate them.

How many zeros are in a trillion?

A trillion has 12 zeros in the short scale, and 18 zeros in the long scale. The short scale is used in American and British English, while the long scale is used in many non-English-speaking countries.

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How do you say a trillion in Spanish?

In Spanish, a trillion is called un billón, which is the same as the long scale definition of a billion (10). To avoid confusion, you can also use the term un millón de millones, which literally means one million millions.

How much is a trillion dollars worth?

A trillion dollars is worth a lot of money, but its value depends on how you measure it. For example, you can compare it to the gross domestic product (GDP) of different countries, which is the total value of goods and services produced in a year. According to the World Bank, the GDP of the United States in 2020 was about 20.93 trillion dollars, while the GDP of China was about 14.72 trillion dollars. This means that a trillion dollars is equivalent to about 5% of the U.S. economy, or about 7% of the Chinese economy.

How many people are in a trillion?

A trillion people is more than the current population of the world, which is about 7.9 billion people as of 2021. To reach a trillion people, we would need to multiply the world population by about 127 times. This would require a lot of space, resources, and cooperation among humans.


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