[audience gasps]
Auctioneer: Sir, that's not a number.
[audience gasps harder]
When your notation isn't enough, it's better to make up new numbers on the spot.
Has two popular varieties:
- Using zillions, skyrillions and other such words as real (but ridiculously high) numbers. Often lampshaded.
- Just making up numbers when their correct meaning may be guessed: for example, "eleventy" must be 110.
Of course, there are plenty of real large numbers ending in -illion, usually formed with boring Latin prefixes - The Other Wiki, as always, has a list.
Ridiculous Future Inflation can be a cause of this. Usually a Comedy Trope. Justified when a character really uses another notation, or when he has to make a number up because what he's describing is even bigger than a googolplex^{note } . For money, compare Zillion-Dollar Bill and contrast Undisclosed Funds. For units of measurement, compare Fantastic Measurement System.
This is not to be confused with the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers, which are far more useful, especially when computing the square root of a negative number, and are basically the mathematical foundation of quantum mechanics, electronics, telecommunications and signal processing.
Examples:
- Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
- Scrooge McDuck's fortune is always measured in "fantasticatillions", "obsquatumatillions", etc. — often ending in "... and sixteen cents" (the page image is an exception).
- In the climax of "The Crazy Quiz Show", Donald Duck's final question (and his Unexpectedly Obscure Answer) was the following:
Q: How many drops of water pass over Niagara Falls in a week?
A: Nine trillion multipadillion, six hundred and eighty-six squadrificillion, fifty octodecimadillion, eight hundred and sixty-three centrifipillion, nine hundred and forty overplusillion, six hundred and five duplicatillion, thirty-three impossibadillion, seven hundred and ninety-one compounded ultrafatillion, three hundred and forty super trillion, fifty-nine duper dillion, twenty-nine billion, seven hundred and fifty million, four hundred and six thousand, five hundred and thirty-three drops.
- The ninth issue of the Madballs comic book published by defunct Marvel Comics subsidiary Star Comics had the villains demand payment of twenty-seven quillion dollars.
- In the 12th issue of Cartoon Cartoons, the story "Beware the R.O.B.A.A.T." has General Specific state "I'm not the one who spent a kajillion dollars on this ashtray" before correcting himself and remembering that he did spend that much on an ashtray in response to Private Public complaining about how expensive it will be to continue purchasing the upgrades they need for the R.O.B.A.A.T. to do the most basic of functions.
- In Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! The Time of Myths Bow-Zar the Barkbarian comes from is "a zillion years ago".
- "Did you know women prefer Old Spice for their men one bajillion times more than ladies' scented body washes? Did you know that I'm riding this horse backwards? Hyah!"
- There's an ING commercial where one man is carrying around a sign that reads 1.2 million dollars which is the amount that he knows he needs to have to live comfortably in retirement. His next-door neighbor has a sign that says "A Gazillion" to illustrate that he doesn't know what he requires for retirement and thus needs the company's services.
- In My Immortal, Enoby shoots Snap and Loopin a gazillion times with her gun. This only manages to break the video camera.
- Parodied and subverted in Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged.
Sakyo: $20 billion on the intruders.Tarukune: Sakyo, quit bustin' my balls. Stop makin' up numbers.Giles: A billion is a real number, sir.Tarukune: I've just been informed that a billion is a real number.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series: Thunderstorm mentions he could make a zillion Shadow clones using a portal.
- In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Mister Mxyzptlk says he's been around for millions, or billions, or jillions of years. He admits that he can't remember exactly how old he is.
- Hercules
Hades: Uh, yeah, Poseidon, about a zillion times...
- At the beginning of Toy Story, the wanted poster of Mr. Potato Head shows the "$50 bzillion" [sic] reward. Of course, the drawing was done by a six-year-old boy.
- The LEGO Movie: Captain Metalbeard describes Lord Business's office as being on the "infinityth floor" of the Octan Tower.
- Duplex
Nancy Kendricks: Well it's going to be worth a bazillion times that.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Eddie Valiant: We were investigating a robbery at the First National Bank of Toontown. [snip] Anyway, this guy got away with a zillion simoleons.
- Might actually be justified (and not just by Rule of Funny). "Zillion" might in fact be a number in Toon, and one wonders if there's an exchange rate for "simoleons".
- Or you could always spend them in SimCity.
- Might actually be justified (and not just by Rule of Funny). "Zillion" might in fact be a number in Toon, and one wonders if there's an exchange rate for "simoleons".
- Undercover Brother
The Chief: Didn't you cause about a ba-zillion dollars worth of damage?
- Starship Troopers (also used in the book).
Trooper: Bugs, Mr. Rico! Zillions of 'em!
- To modern ears, Back to the Future's famous "1.21 jiggawatts" sounds like this, but it's really just an outdated pronunciation of "gigawatts".
- Either that or the power generated by dancing 1.21 jigs.
- Austin Powers in Goldmember: Continuing the series-wide Running Gag of Dr. Evil not understanding inflation, he holds the world hostage for "1 billion, gagillion, fafillion, shabolubalu million illion yillion...yen". The UN deems it a reasonable price.
- Donald Rumsfeld briefed the President this morning. He told Bush that three Brazilian soldiers were killed in Iraq. To everyone's amazement, all of the colour ran from Bush's face, then he collapsed onto his desk, head in hands, visibly shaken, almost whimpering. Finally, he composed himself and asked Rumsfeld, "Just exactly how many is a brazillion?"
- During the preparation to the 2014 SochiOlympic Games, due to the enormous amount of funds spent (a lot of them stolen as befits Russian tradition), "Olympiard" became memetic. The exact amount is still debated, but a common joke was that it equals a thousand spizdillions (spizdili is an obscene Russian word for stole).
- Not for a Billion Gazillion Dollars by Paula Danzinger.
- From The Lord of the Rings: Bilbo proclaims, "Today is my 111th birthday: I am eleventy-one today!" The term is apparently normal for hobbits, who live longer than humans. It's derived from Old English: hund endleofantig).
- In Life, the Universe and Everything, the Krikkit Wars apparently resulted in two grillion casualties.
- Discworld
- A conversation in Witches Abroad between Magrat and a rather bratty Little Red Riding Hood:
"Bet you a million trillion zillion dollars you can't turn that bush into a pumpkin," said the child...."Nothing. Just thinking. And you owe me a million trillion zillion squillion dollars."
- A variation in The Science of Discworld, in which imaginary numbers are parodied with the Bursar suggesting that there's an extra number between three and four called 'umpt'. A Stealth Pun about 'umpteen', umpt presumably being that minus ten.
- A conversation in Witches Abroad between Magrat and a rather bratty Little Red Riding Hood:
- Dave Barry once proposed that Congress should use the "Whomptillion", defined as "an amount of money so huge that every time a Congressman says the word, your taxes go up 5%".
- In the last Ramona Quimby book, Ramona turns ten, but refers to herself as "zeroteen" because she thinks the way the first three double-digit numbers get left out of the "teens" is arbitrary and unfair.
- In Beezus and Ramona, when she's five, she weighs herself and comes up with "fifty-eleven pounds."
- In Dave Barry Slept Here, France's sale notice for the Louisiana territory describes its size as "approx. 34 hillion jillion acres."
- The novel Blasphemy by Richard Preston mentions God Numbers and reveals one of them that is used to represent the "fullness of time" that will be needed for the universe to reach its "final state".
It will be a number of years equal to ten factorial raised to the ten factorial power, that number raised to the ten factorial power, that number raised to the ten factorial power, this power relation repeated 10^83 times, and then the resulting number raised to its own factorial power 10^47 times, as above.^{note }
- Isaac Asimov's "Catch That Rabbit": When Powell is emphasizing how many parts of DV-5 could be responsible for the conflict in this story, he says there's "upty-ump thousand other individual pieces of complexity that can be wrong."
- Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book: At the end of the book, "99 zillion 9 trillion and 2" animals are asleep.
- The Cosby Show
- "It's All in the Game"
Cliff Huxtable: Do you know just how much it's going to cost to fix the washing machine? A bazillion dollars.
- "Denise Kendall: Navy Wife"
Cliff Huxtable: There is a zillion skillion babies in Heaven.
- "It's All in the Game"
- Saturday Night Live
- Celebrity Jeopardy! Tobey Maguire was playing Keanu Reeves:
Alex Trebek: [to Keanu] Let's see what you wagered: Eleventy billion dollars. That's not even a real number.Keanu Reeves: Yet.- In another episode, Alex threw out the final category and told the contestants to write down any number at all in order to win. Jimmy Fallon's French Stewart went with "threeve" and then wagered "$Texas."
- Parodied in That Mitchell and Webb Look, in a Numberwang sketch where an "Imaginary Numbers" round is played. Somehow, while "Twentington" and "Frilve hundred and Neeb" are accepted, "Shinty-six" (depicted as fifty-six with a reversed five) is rejected as a real number, as in the popular phrase, "I only have shinty-six days left to live." A sketch during their live tour (also adapted into a Celebrity Edition for the BBC's Comic Relief telethon) had a "no numbers" round which similarly rejected "Brazil" as being a number, as in "Brazil Britons are feared to be among the dead."
- Timmy Mallet's children's breakfast show from The '80s, Wacaday, popularised "squillion". This recently re-emerged when Nick Clegg used it in one of the British prime ministerial debates.
- In the episode "Culture for the Masses" in The Goodies, Tim buys a painting at an auction for "one million billion quintillion zillion pounds and two and a half new pence", which it goes without saying that he does not have. They leave thirteen pence as a deposit. By Contrived Coincidence, the National Gallery has all their paintings insured for exactly one million billion quintillion zillion pounds. Hilarity Ensues.
- The TV Series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy extends a line of dialogue from the book and puts in a new number:
Ford Prefect: I think this ship is brand-new, Arthur.Arthur Dent: Why, have you got some exotic device for measuring the age of metal?Ford Prefect: No. I just found this sales brochure on the floor. It says, "The Universe can be yours for a mere five quilliard Altairian dollars."Arthur Dent: Cheap?
- Mr. Show featured a sketch set in the 1890s which revolved around a marching band competition judged by the "Eleventy-Twelfth President of the United States".
- There was a series of sketches on MADtv parodying Schoolhouse Rock! and one of the songs parodied was "Three is a Magic Number." The lyrics went like:
3, 6, 912, 47, 90Something, next, 1003 times 10 is -23 times 5 is elevendy3 times 2 is I dunno
- How I Met Your Mother: "I would bet you a gazillion dollars — no, I'm even more confident — I would bet you a floppity-jillion dollars."
- Babylon 5: "Eleventy" is used in one episode, with Lennier mentioning his "eleventy-fifth year" of religious caste training. According to JMS, this is actually an aversion, and "eleventy-fifth" is "sixteenth" as expressed in Minbari base-eleven style (though poor Londo looked as bored as if he had been listening to 115 years' worth of anecdotes).
- Jay-Z's "Allure":
"The game is a light bulb with eleventy-million volts"
- Usher's "Burn" has this:
"It's been fifty-eleven days, umpteen hours,
I'm gonna be burnin' 'til you return!" - The John Denver song "Grandma's Feather Bed" says the bed "was made from the feathers of forty 'leven geese."
- Calvin and Hobbes:
- On a math test, Calvin asks Susie for an answer, and she responds "three hundred billion gazillion." This is then lampshaded, as Calvin proceeds to snark her for giving such a "helpful" answer. Susie then follows up by saying that it's a 3, followed by 85 zeroes, and Calvin writes it down.
- Spaceman Spiff also tends to use these kinds of "-illion" numbers.
- When Calvin asks Hobbes for help with his math homework, Hobbes notes that it requires calculus and imaginary numbers, "You know, eleventeen, thirty-twelve, and all those." (Imaginary numbers, by the way, are a real mathematical concept, but not the way Hobbes puts it.)
- Dilbert has "frooglepoopillion".
- In "The Rain Song" from 110 in the Shade, Starbuck boasts that he knows "forty-'leven different methods" for bringing rain.
- The Eleventy Billionth HoKage insists that "eleventy" means "eleven more than everything"
- One selling point of Borderlands was its "87 bazillion" guns. The actual number of weapon combinations is quite high but doesn't even come close to the "billion" moniker.
- Borderlands 2: "87 bazillion guns" just got BAZILLIONDIER.
- In Mother 2 (the Japanese Version), Porky's dad claims Ness' family owes him an unrealistic value, something equivalent to "hundred million jillion dollars". In the US version, it was changed to a realistic value of hundred thousand dollars or more. Later in the game, Ness and company acquire a diamond said to be worth a similarly unrealistic value, but the translation made it worth an even one million.
- Inversely, it is a gazillion years too early to oppose Giygas! Well, according to Porky, anyways, who used an actual number (not to be taken literally) in the Japanese version.
- When Strong Bad, and Tycho argue over whose website gets more hits per month in Poker Night at the Inventory, Strong Bad argues that Tycho's gets about a few blajillion. On Monday, several katillion hits. On Tuesday, half a blazill-illion.
- According to NGU Idle, one thousand centillion (or CENTILLION, since the game writes it in capitals) is a SUPERCENTILLION (also capitals).
- In Sinfest, Uncle Sam will sell Lil' Evil the warhead for 900 billion jillion dollars.
- In Homestuck, the Warhammer of Zillyhoo costs one zillion units of Zillium grist to alchemize.
- Given that John was nowhere near an alchemiter, the "ONE ZILLION" thing was probably just his imagination.
- In Act 6 it's confirmed that the Warhammer and the other Zilly-weapons (plus Dirk's Unbreakable Katana) actually do cost one zillion Zillium each. Of course, all this alchemization takes place during Trickster Mode, so who knows whether that number really means anything.
- Insanity Prawn Boy likes to use the number "fifty-twelve". Incidentally, he lives in apartment 512.
- According to the first episode of Ouran: The Vaguely Abridged Series, Haruhi Fujioka needs "eight million jillion quadrillion malalalalilion shoo-ba-da-da-do-bop-bop-ian" in order to pay off a broken vase. Also note that value doesn't have a currency attached to it.
- From That Wacky Century:
1918 – Britain and France blame World War I on Germany, and require them to pay a hillion jillion Deutschmarks in reparations; Germany accomplishes this by printing a hillion 1-jillion-Deutschmark bills.
- Gröûp X can count all the way to scfifty-five.
- Zero Punctuation features wonderful numbers like the Bazillion or the Hyperbolillion.
- According to history of the entire world, i guess, the universe was "about a kjghpillion degrees" shortly after the Big Bang.
- An online parody of real estate shows is called Bajillion Dollar Propertie$.
- The Fairly OddParents!: Norm the Genie tries to get Timmy to order a million billion jillion dollars. Timmy says he knows there's no such number as a jillion, and wishes for the billion. Hilarity Ensues - he never said they would be real.
- In Frosty the Snowman (1969) Forgiveness for what Professor Hinkle did comes with a rather stiff price:
Santa Claus: Now you go home and write "I am very sorry for what I did to Frosty" 100 zillion times.
- And it's implied at the end he succeeded because he got the new hat he wanted.
- Animaniacs episode "Flipper Parody/Temporary Insanity/Operation: Lollipop/What Are We?": a check for 80 zillion dollars.
- Batman Beyond episode "The Winning Edge"
Batman: Come on, he must be a zillion years old.
- Family Guy:
Senator 1: I say we fine the El Dorado Tobacco Company infinty billion dollars!Senator 2: That's the spirit! But I think a real number might be more effective.
- Codename: Kids Next Door
- In an operation at an ice cream factory, Numbuh Three finally finds a thermostat and promptly cranks it to the "Like eleventy bajillion degrees!" setting.
- There's a villain who always says he wants a buh-million dollars (denoted as $BUH.000.000).
- In fact, the number "eleventy billon" is thrown around quite frequently, presumably meaning 110×10^{9}, or 110,000,000,000. Even Father says it in Operation: Z.E.R.O..
- On The Penguins of Madagascar, when Kowalski is asked about a number that's less than nothing, he comes up with "neg-finity".
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- In "Truth or Square", the Krusty Krab celebrates its "eleventy-seventh" anniversary.
- In "Have You Seen This Snail?", the "Dirty Bubble Challenge" involves hitting the paddleball 29,998,559,671,349 times in a row.
- In one episode of Doug, the titular character is imagining an utterly one-sided baseball game. After Doug strikes out again and Patty asks Skeeter for the score, Skeeter replies, "A bajillion to nothing."
- In Futurama episode "A Fishful of Dollars", Fry is bidding against Mom for the last can of anchovies on Earth and tries to bid one jillion dollars (see page quote). He settles for 50 million instead.
- On U.S. Acres, Roy once won "one skillion dollars" while competing on a game show.
- In an episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes, when asked by Lucius how many times Beezy has saved his life, Beezy says "Twe-leven!"
- In the Kim Possible episode "The Big Job", Señor Senior Junior presents his ransom demands:
Señor Senior Junior: Hello everyone. If you are interested in having the five richest people in the world safely returned to you, you need to convey to us the sum of a bazillion zillion dollars. (laughs)Shego (offscreen): That’s not a real number.Señor Senior Junior: But it sounds so impressive! And don't you like my evil chortle?Shego (pushing SSJ aside): Hi, he's new at this. A billion dollars apiece will do just fine.
- The Duck Dodgers episode, "The Six Wazillion Dollar Duck" lampshades this completely.
Dr. IQ High: Those mechanic parts aren't toys. They cost six wazillion dollars.Dodgers: Is that a lot?Dr. IQ High: It's so much money that we actually had to make up a number and multiply it by six just to count it.
- The "Broadway Magic" episode of Jem had Eric Raymond offering the real amount of one million dollars to anyone who could reveal Jem's secret identity, a man from a fake sweepstakes company approached Jem with a check for one ZILLION dollars and said that the money was hers if she signed her real name.
- From The Simpsons episode, "Milhouse of Sand and Fog".
Bart: Mom, Dad, I'd give a kajillion dollars for you two to get back together.Homer: Make it 2 kajillion.Marge: Homer!Homer: We'll lose the first kajillion to taxes.
- Gravity Falls
- In "The Inconveniencing", after Mabel starts hallucinating from eating too much Smile Dip.
Dipper: Mabel, how many of these did you eat?!
Mabel: Bleven-teen...- In "The Time Traveler's Pig", Blendin Blandin is a time agent from the year 207̃012 (pronounced "twenty-snyeventy-twelve").
- In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius episode "Normal Boy", Jimmy becomes dimwitted and during school, he answers a math problem (what's the square root of 144?) with "eleventy-six".
- A couple of examples from Arthur: in the episode "Arthur Babysits," he flashes back to D.W. jumping on the couch as Arthur attempts to read to her. She chants "Forty-eleven, forty-twelve, forty-thirteen..." while doing so. Additionally, in the episode "I'd Rather Read It Myself," the Tibble Twins tried to prove to D.W. they could tell time. They pointed to the grandfather clock in Arthur's living room and said the time was "eleventy-twelve," when the clock actually read ten past four.
- Metalocalypse does this quite often, mainly because each member of Dethklok is, at the very least, a multi-billionaire and each album the Band releases dramatically affects the Stock Market and Global Economy.
News Anchor: World markets rose sharply again on the shipping of the Dethklok album, which is expected to give a huge boost to the economy. As a result, the U.S. Treasury issued a new denomination of currency; the Klokillion. That's one million krillions, folks!
- In the Adventure Time episode "Five More Short Graybles", the storyteller informs the viewer that the theme of the episode can't be the five fingers because nobody's had five fingers for over "20 mabillion glables".
- In the episode "Assisted Suicide" of The Venture Bros., Eros and Thanatos argue over whether "quadrillion" is a real number. (It is. 10^{15} in short scale, or 10^{24} in long scale.)
- In the episode "Terminal Stimpy" of The Ren & Stimpy Show, Stimpy attempts to count how many of his nine lives he has lost. Being Stimpy, he answers with "sixty-twelve" (while holding up three fingers), to which Ren corrects him that it's seven.
- Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats: Cleo asks if Hector, Wordsworth and Mungo can count. Mungo rattles off "eleventeen".
- The technical name for a googol, if you were to extrapolate from the usual naming convention, would be "ten duotrigintillion", or "ten thousand sexdecillion"/"ten sexdecilliard" on the long scale (where a billion equals one million millions), or we could just say 10^100 and call it a day.
- Hilariously, the term was supposedly coined by mathematician Edward Kasner's young nephew upon being asked for a large number.
- Truth in Television: Graham's number is so ridiculously huge that we have to use another notation to write it.
- If we were to use the normal notation, we'd need a new universe to write it, as this one is entirely too small. For a time it was the largest number ever used seriously in a mathematical proof, though it's since lost this title to other numbers.
- We would need many universes the size of this one just to write the number for how much too small the universe is to write g1, the first term in an expansion that increases so ridiculously fast that it makes "exponential increase" look like a flat line (to give some idea, the expansion that results in g1 itself starts "3, 7.6 trillion, ..." and there are over 7.6 trillion terms in that expansion alone). Graham's number is g64.
- It is so ridiculously huge that the amount of information required to write it down completely in your head is enough to literally collapse your head into a black hole. This video gives an idea of how huge it is.
- If we were to use the normal notation, we'd need a new universe to write it, as this one is entirely too small. For a time it was the largest number ever used seriously in a mathematical proof, though it's since lost this title to other numbers.
- And, of course, there exists an entire wiki devoted to studying and naming such numbers. Graham's number is on the low end of the numbers listed there.
- There is an entire thread on the XKCD forums dedicated to creating ever larger and larger numbers. After about 5 pages of this, the numbers being thrown around make Graham's Number seem like a speck of dust in comparison. After another 10 pages... let's just say that the numbers are so large that the math to understand these numbers gets progressively harder and harder to understand.
- Probably set in motion by this comic. The Ackermann Function tends to return huge values for even the smallest numbers (The Other Wiki says A(4,3) has 6.031*10^19727 digits). Now imagine Graham's number as the input. "AUGHHH" indeed.
- Although this number is still probably less than g65, so it's really not actually a huge improvement...
- Probably set in motion by this comic. The Ackermann Function tends to return huge values for even the smallest numbers (The Other Wiki says A(4,3) has 6.031*10^19727 digits). Now imagine Graham's number as the input. "AUGHHH" indeed.
- The S.I. prefixes for large numbers go "tera" (trillion), "peta" (quadrillion), "exa" (quintillion), "zetta" (sextillion), and "yotta" (septillion). People can get very creative thinking up prefixes for numbers larger than these.
- For the next quanitity 1000 times bigger than yotta, the prefix "hella" was proposed. The mass of the Earth, for instance, would be 6 hellagrams.
- You could, theoretically, string multiple prefixes together, so a megayotta would be one million yotta. The length of a football field, expressed in the super tiny unit called the Planck length, would be a little over 5 terayottaPlanck lengths.
- Numbers in French.
- The same principle as "twelve" ("douze") is continued up to 16 ("seize").
- The direct translations of "seventy", "eighty" and "ninety" ("septante", "octante" and "nonante") are archaic in France and Quebec but do have some rare use in other regions. The more standard terms are "sixty-ten", "four-twenty" and "four-twenty-ten" ("soixante-dix", "quatre-vingts" and "quatre-vingt-dix"). "Quatre-vingts" is comparable to "four score" in English, "score" being equal to 20.
- When you get right down to it, since numbers go on forever, all that's necessary is to somehow give those numbers an official name. But until then, numbers like 'zillion' or 'gluglomwomalomadumdummillion' will stay non-existent unless they are given a definition as a specific number.