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The avoirdupois system is a system of weights defining terms such as pound and ounce. It is the everyday system of weight used in the United States and was used in the United Kingdom and elsewhere until metrication. It is considered more modern and standardized than the alternative troy or "apothecary" system.

In the avoirdupois system, all units are multiples or fractions of the pound, which is defined as 453.592 37 g.

These are the units in their original French forms:

Britain, when it began to use this system, added a Roman unit, the stone, which was defined as fourteen avoirdupois pounds. The quarter, hundredweight, and ton were altered, respectively, to 28 lbs., 112 lbs., and 2240 lbs. in order for masses to be easily converted between them and stone. The British colonies in North America, however, adopted the system as it was. In the U.S., qtrs., cwts., and tons remain defined as 25, 100, and 2000 lbs. (though the two former are virtually unused); they are referred to as the "short" units, as opposed to the British "long" units.

The following are the units in the British adaptation of the avoirdupois system:

  • 16 drams/drachms = 1 ounce (oz.)
  • 16 ounces = 1 pound (lb.)
  • 14 pounds = 1 stone (st.)
  • 2 stone = 1 quarter (qtr.)
  • 4 quarter = 1 hundredweight (cwt.)
  • 20 hundredweight = 1 ton/tonne

See also: Imperial unit, US customary units

Last updated: 11-06-2004 16:39:16