One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally (especially in Britain): the cardinal number equal to the ninth power of a million (1054). Now (originally US): the cardinal number equal to the tenth power of a thousand (1030).
Numbering a nonillion; (hyperbolically) a very great many, countless.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in John Locke (1632–1704), philosopher. From French nonillion the cardinal number equal to the ninth power of a million from classical Latin nōnus ninth + French -illion (in million).
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