Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
October 23rd, 2015
Episode 358 of 790 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 23, 2015 is: googol \GOO-gawl\ noun : the figure 1 followed by 100 zeros equal to 10100 Examples: In January 1997, astronomers Fred Adams and Gregory Laughlin predicted that the universe would end in a number of years equal to approximately one googol. "Google spits out massive amounts of information. Even the name Google, a misspelling of 'googol' the number one followed by 100 zerosis innuendo, delivering a promise of massive amounts of results with each search." Alexis Sobel Fitts, The Huffington Post, 25 Aug. 2015 Did you know? During the 1930s, American mathematician Edward Kasner found himself working with numbers as large as 10 to the 100th powerthat's a one followed by 100 zeros. While it is possible to write that number using standard scientific notation, Dr. Kasner felt that it deserved a name of its own. According to his own account, Dr. Kasner asked his nine-year-old nephew, Milton Sirotta, to pick a name, promising the boy that he would use the word in the future. Milton made up the word googol, and so the enormous number was christened. Dr. Kasner kept his promise, and the word has spread and been widely adopted by mathematicians and the general public alike.