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Nonillion vs. Octillion — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Fiza Rafique — Updated on May 6, 2024
Nonillion is a value of 10^30 in the American system, while octillion comes just before it at 10^27, each vastly differing in magnitude by a factor of a thousand.
Nonillion vs. Octillion — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Nonillion and Octillion


Key Differences

A nonillion represents a one followed by 30 zeros in the short scale system used primarily in the United States and English-speaking countries. In contrast, an octillion is denoted as a one followed by 27 zeros. This scale progression places a nonillion exactly one thousand times larger than an octillion.
In terms of usage, nonillion and octillion are both terms often encountered in scientific contexts, especially when discussing astronomy and theoretical physics. However, the practical usage of nonillion is less common compared to octillion due to the even larger scale of magnitude it represents.
Regarding numeric representation, the distinction between a nonillion and an octillion is critical in fields that require precise calculations like astrophysics and cosmology. While nonillion might be used to express quantities such as the number of particles in a large simulation, octillion could be utilized for slightly less immense, yet still substantial, quantities.
In everyday language, both terms are infrequently used but serve to illustrate extreme quantities. Nonillion appears in contexts involving larger national debts or hypothetical discussions of space, whereas octillion might appear in discussions concerning global sand grains or stars in the universe.
When teaching large numbers, educators might introduce octillion before nonillion to help students grasp the concept of exponential growth in the base-10 number system. This pedagogical approach helps in understanding the substantial difference in scale between these numbers.

Comparison Chart

Scale Comparison

1000 times larger than octillion
0.001 times a nonillion

Common Usage Context

Rare, large-scale scientific calculations
Less rare, slightly smaller scientific calculations

Representation in Words

One nonillion: a one followed by 30 zeros
One octillion: a one followed by 27 zeros

Educational Sequence

Introduced after octillion
Introduced before nonillion

Compare with Definitions


Represents extremely large quantities in scientific notation.
The national debt could theoretically reach a nonillion dollars in an extreme hyperinflation scenario.


A step below nonillion in the progression of large numbers.
After learning about septillion, we studied octillion in our number series.


Rarely encountered in everyday calculations.
The chances of winning the lottery multiple times might be one in a nonillion.


Used in contexts involving large but countable quantities.
There are about seven octillion grains of sand on Earth.


Often used in theoretical physics to discuss hypothetical quantities.
A nonillion particles were simulated to understand the universe's structure.


More common than nonillion in scientific discussions.
An octillion bytes is a term sometimes used in discussions of future data storage.


Serves as an educational tool to demonstrate large numbers.
In math class, we learned that a nonillion is significantly larger than an octillion.


Also used to illustrate large-scale concepts in education.
Teachers explain that an octillion is a thousand times less than a nonillion.


The cardinal number equal to 1030.


The cardinal number that is equal to 1027.


Chiefly British The cardinal number equal to 1054.


Chiefly British The cardinal number that is equal to 1048.




A thousand trillion trillion, a billion billion billion: 1 followed by 27 zeros, 1027.


(dated British & Australian, long scale) 1054.


A trillion quintillion: 1 followed by 48 zeros, 1048.


(hyperbole) An unspecified very large number.


According to the French method of numeration (which method is followed also in the United States) the number expressed by a unit with twenty-seven ciphers annexed. According to the English method, the number expressed by a unit with forty-eight ciphers annexed. See Numeration.


According to the French and American notation, a thousand octillions, or a unit with thirty ciphers annexed; according to the English notation, a million octillions, or a unit with fifty-four ciphers annexed. See the Note under Numeration.

Common Curiosities

What practical uses does an octillion have?

An octillion is used in various scientific and theoretical calculations where large but not extreme values are discussed.

Is nonillion or octillion larger?

Nonillion is larger than octillion by a factor of a thousand.

What is a nonillion?

A nonillion is a number represented by one followed by 30 zeros in the American numbering system.

Where might one encounter the term nonillion?

Nonillion is typically used in scientific contexts to represent extremely large numbers.

What is the factor difference between nonillion and octillion?

The factor difference between nonillion and octillion is 1000.

Are nonillion and octillion used in computing?

These terms are not commonly used in practical computing due to their enormous size.

What comes after an octillion?

After octillion, the next number is nonillion.

How does an octillion compare to a nonillion?

An octillion is one thousand times smaller than a nonillion.

How are nonillion and octillion used in education?

These terms are used to teach students about large numbers and the concept of exponential growth in mathematics.

Can you provide an example of a nonillion in everyday life?

It is difficult to find practical everyday examples of nonillion due to its immense size.

How do nonillion and octillion help in understanding the universe?

These numbers help scientists quantify and discuss concepts involving extremely large quantities, such as stars in the universe.

How often do nonillion and octillion appear in literature?

These terms are infrequent in literature, primarily appearing in scientific or highly theoretical discussions.

Why is it important to know about nonillion and octillion?

Understanding these numbers aids in grasping the concept of large scales and magnitudes, which is essential in scientific education.

Do nonillion and octillion have any real-world applications?

Their applications are mostly theoretical, especially in fields like cosmology and theoretical physics.

What challenges arise when teaching nonillion and octillion?

The main challenge is conveying the vast difference in scale these numbers represent in a comprehensible way.

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Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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