Think of the biggest, hugest, most insane number you can imagine. Got it? OK, now add one to it. The amazing thing about numbers is that they never stop. There’s always a bigger number.
For years I assumed that “zillion” was actually a real number, something that came along when you hit one-thousand trillion. How wrong I was. Apologies if you find this to be old news, but zillion doesn’t exist. It’s just a made-up word. Of course there are bigger numbers after trillion, but what do we call them?
I came across a personal blog from Jim Loy, who helpfully explains the order of big numbers. Here’s how it goes: hundreds, thousands, millions, billions, trillions, quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion, octillion, nonillion, decillion, and so on and so forth. By the time you get to centillion, you’re talking about a number with 303 zeros after it.
But getting back to made up words. This is one of my favorite pastimes, and after looking around the Web I see that I’m not alone. For anyone who enjoys coining nonsensical words and phrases and then feigning shock when people have no idea what you’re talking about, check out this list of ‘words’ from fans of author Jasper Fforde. Some personal favorites: Gruntled (the opposite of being disgruntled), puffalope (a padded envelope), and sploop (the flat, rounded corner that’s created when one drops a bar of soap in the shower).
Got some favorite made up words of your own? Sound off in the comments.
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