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The Word "Million" Didn't Exist Until We Needed It – Facts So Romantic – Nautilus

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Why would that concise word be absent in earlier language? It seems that there was no word for million in Old English simply because its speakers had no great use for it.

Though the runway of numeracy is infinite, number words, like words in general, were created as needed, as people began thinking and talking about bigger quantities.

Etymological dictionaries suggest that our word “Thousand” originated as a magnification of a lesser one: “Hundred.” The Oxford English Dictionary relates that the first half of “Thousand” is rooted in the Indo-European “Tus”-meaning “Multitude” or “Force”-while the latter half is related to that smaller number.

As two British mathematicians put it in The Book of Numbers, “A ‘thousand’ is literally a ‘strong hundred.'” The composite nature of the word makes it plausible that “Thousand” emerged from “Hundred,” as the need for it grew.

“The innovation of the word million is not in the concept itself, but rather in the creation of a single word for it”, writes Anthony Esposito, associate editor of etymology at the Oxford English Dictionary.

In the European world, the word for million was formed by squaring the word for thousand with a simple suffix.

In modern Italian, these words are “Mille” and “Milione,” and today a similar pair of words exist in every Romance language.


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Post Author: Carla Parsons

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