Posted by: episystechpubs | May 26, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Pounds and Ounces

Dear Editrix,

I was wondering last night (I do my best thinking in the middle of the night!) why the abbreviations for pounds is lbs. and ounces is oz. Maybe you can shed some light on this?

Sincerely,

KS

Dear KS,

What a great question! I found an article on this topic in Mental Floss that provides an explanation for both of those abbreviations. I hope this sheds that needed light on your nighttime thoughts!

Lb is an abbreviation of the Latin word libra. The primary meaning of libra was balance or scales (as in the astrological sign), but it also stood for the ancient Roman unit of measure libra pondo, meaning “a pound by weight.” We got the word “pound” in English from the pondo part of the libra pondo but our abbreviation comes from the libra. The libra is also why the symbol for the British pound is £—an L with a line through it. The Italian lira also used that symbol (with two lines through it), the word “lira” itself being a shortened version of libra.

“Ounce” is related to the Latin uncia, the name for both the Roman ounce and inch units of measurement. The word came into English from Anglo-Norman French, where it was unce or ounce, but the abbreviation was borrowed from Medieval Italian, where the word was onza. These days the Italian word is oncia, and the area once covered by the Roman Empire has long since switched to the metric system.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: