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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

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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.

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zillionaire

January 14th, 2015

Episode 76 of 717 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 14, 2015 is: zillionaire \zil-yuh-NAIR\ noun : an immeasurably wealthy person Examples: "Unless you're a zillionaire, it's practically impossible to find an affordable and spacious place to live in the city," said Beth. "I tell the interns who come to work at OppenheimerFunds each summer, 'If you come to Wall St. to become a zillionaire, you probably won't.' If that's someone's only motivation, it won't work." Arthur Steinmetz, LinkedIn Pulse, November 20, 2014 Did you know? The word millionaire has been used in English to designate a person who is worth a million pounds or dollars, depending on the side of the ocean, since 1786. We borrowed the word straight from the French, whose millions, of course, were in francs. Millionaire eventually no longer sufficed, and English speakers coined billionaire in 1844. Soon afterwards came multimillionaire, followed by multibillionaire in the early 1900s. Once zillion was made up as a humorous word for an indeterminately large number (patterned on million and billion), it was only a matter of time before zillionaire came along as a humorous word for a person of seemingly immeasurable wealth. Zillion and zillionaire aren't used in the most formal of writing, but they have found their way into plenty of serious publications.

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