1
$\begingroup$

Note: Not English specific but about any major system of recording or discussing numbers. I know some systems would not give 100 a special place.

People today when discussing largish numbers tend to go from one thousand to one million -- definitely ten thousand and one hundred thousand, while both perfectly good powers of ten, I think are not referred to as frequently.

I am aware of "myriad" being considered a special number (being ten thousand) and an old story has a captive of great value being ransomed for, say, one myriad pieces of gold. The captive was offended somewhat and his captor explained that he did not know of any higher number than ten thousand.

I am sure by the 19th century, there would have been few literate people who did not know of the word "million" -- by this time the cost of wars and acquisitions was measured in the millions, like The Louisiana Purchase -- I doubt if any newspaper report described the transaction as being in "100s of myriads" of ounces of gold.

$\endgroup$
6
  • $\begingroup$ Is this a question about the English language? Or would you include special number words in other languages, too? See a recent example here hsm.stackexchange.com/a/14109/229 $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7 at 6:06
  • $\begingroup$ Myriados is "the greatest number in Greek expressed by one word", a single letter M in Attic numerals. The Chinese also grouped numbers by myriads and have a special character for 10,000. "Outside of Taiwan, digits are sometimes grouped by myriads instead of thousands. Hence it is more convenient to think of numbers here as in groups of four, thus 1,234,567,890 is regrouped here as 12,3456,7890" Chinese numerals. $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Commented Apr 7 at 7:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ 100,000 is singled out in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Vietnam), the name is lakh. $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Commented Apr 7 at 7:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Conifold Yes, I have heard this term and it is apparently in current use. $\endgroup$
    – releseabe
    Commented Apr 7 at 8:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @releseabe it certainly is. When I review articles for health journals I have had to point out to authors that the lakh is not widely known outside South Asia. $\endgroup$
    – mdewey
    Commented Apr 7 at 12:43

0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.