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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

arbitrary word-forming element meaning "billion" in the metric system, 1947, from Greek gigas "giant" (see giant).\n


pre. 1 In the International System of Units and other metric systems of units, multiplying the unit to which it is attached by 109. Symbol: G 2 (context computing English) Multiplying the unit to which it is attached by 230 or 1,073,741,824


Giga ( or ) is a unit prefix in the metric system denoting a factor of a (short-form) billion (10 or ). It has the symbol G.

Giga is derived from the Greek word , meaning "giant". The Oxford English Dictionary reports the earliest written use of giga in this sense to be in the Reports of the IUPAC 14th Conference in 1947: "The following prefixes to abbreviations for the names of units should be used: G giga 10×".

When referring to information units in computing, such as gigabyte, giga may sometimes mean (2), although such use is inconsistent, contrary to standards and has been discouraged by the standards organizations. The inconsistency is that gigabit is never (or very rarely) used with the binary interpretation of the prefix, while gigabyte is sometimes used this way. The binary prefix gibi has been adopted for 2, while reserving giga exclusively for the metric definition.

Usage examples of "giga-".

Its capacity was most meaningfully expressed not in giga-, tera-, peta-, exa-, or even zettabytes, but in yottabytes, or sextillions of bytes.