The difference between “milliard” and “billion”

In English, a “billion” is 1 000 000 000 (a thousand million).

This has always been the case in US English.

In British English, in the past the word “billion” meant a million million. If we wanted to refer to a thousand million, we simply said “thousand million” or more rarely “milliard”. But in 1974 we officially adopted the US practice of using “billion” to mean a thousand million.

The word “milliard” has since gone out of use in British English. It never existed in US English.

Much of the confusion over the usage of these words derives from variants of the word “milliard” remaining in common usage (and meaning a thousand million) in other European languages, e.g. Spanish millardo, French milliard, German milliarde, Polish miliard and Russian миллиард.

Remember these words translate into “billion”. And there is no longer any distinction between British and US usage.

For more information see

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5 Responses to The difference between “milliard” and “billion”

  1. Good way of explaining, and good piece of writing to obtain data regarding my presentation focus,
    which i am going to convey in academy.

  2. Very good blog post. I absolutely appreciate this website.
    Keepp writing!

  3. Audrey says:

    Cool! I was reading an older book and they used the term milliard, which I thought might be another way of saying million. I’m glad I looked it up; this was interesting.

  4. Ken Reavill says:

    Billion is an abbreviation of bi-million or million to the power of two. Milliard, or better still Thillion, should be used for thousand million. Would then allow the words to match the numbers. Bi-million, Tri-million, Quiad-illion, etc

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