Unit Names
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Unit Names


Here are some unit names and why we use them to designate items.

  • acre: Old English for tilled land
  • ampere: Andre Marie Ampere (1775-1836) French physicist
  • Angstrom: A.J. Angstrom (1814-1874) Swedish physicist
  • apothecary: pharmacist
  • are: French word from the Latin word area for space
  • avoirdupois: Old French for goods of weight (avoir de pois)
  • bag: Unknown
  • bar: Greek baros meaning weight
  • barleycorn: 12th Century England and Scotland, three barleycorns laid end to end form an inch
  • barn: unit of nuclear cross section
  • barye: French word from the Greek barys meaning heavy
  • bel: Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) American inventor
  • board: Unknown
  • bolt: Unknown
  • bucket: Old English for a pitcher
  • bushel: Middle French word (boissiel)
  • butt: Middle French word for a wine cask (botte)
  • calorie: French word from the Latin word calor for heat
  • candle: prior to 1909, a wax candle was used in light measurements
  • cap: Unknown
  • carat: Middle Latin word from an Arabic word meaning weight of four grains (qirat)
  • cental: from the Latin word quint meaning one hundred
  • chaldron: from the Middle French word chauderon
  • cheval- vapeur: Unknown
  • clove: Unknown
  • coomb: Unknown
  • cord: Unknown
  • coulomb: Charles A. de Coulomb (1736-1806) French physist
  • cubit: ancient measure of about 18 to 20 inches
  • dalton: John Dalton (1766-1844) British physicist who worked with color blindness
  • drachm: learned spelling of dram
  • dram: Old French word from a Late Latin word for an ancient silver coin (drachma)
  • dyne: Greek for power (dynamis)
  • ell: Old English measurement of about a yard (eln)
  • em: the letter m as used by a square blocks by printers
  • erg: Greek word for work (ergon)
  • ermi: Unknown
  • farad: Micheal Faraday (1791-1867) British scientist
  • faraday: Micheal Faraday (1791-1867) British scientist
  • fathom: Old English word that means outstretched arms (faethm)
  • fermi: Enrico Fermi (1901-1954) Italian scientist
  • firkin: Unknown
  • furlong: Combination of Old English words for furh for furrow or trench and lang for long
  • gamma: third letter in Greek alphabet
  • gauss: Karl K. Gauss (1777-1855) German scientist
  • geepound: Unknown
  • gilbert: William Gilbert (1540-1603) English scientist
  • gill: Middle French word for a measure of wine (gile)
  • gram: French word (gramme) from the Greek word for small weight (gramma)
  • gunters: Unknown
  • henry: Joseph Henry (1797-1878) American scientist
  • hogshead: Unknown
  • horsepower: horse plus power
  • joule: J.P. Joule (1818-1889) British physicist
  • kilderkin: Unknown
  • knot: Unknown
  • lambert: J.H. Lambert (1728-1777) German scientist
  • langley: Unknown
  • last: from several languages, all meaning load
  • league: Ancient Celtic measurement of about three miles
  • ligne: Unknown
  • line: Unknown
  • link: Unknown
  • liter: French word (litre) from the Greek word for a pound (litra)
  • lumen: Latin word for light or window
  • lux: Latin word for light
  • maxwell: James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) Scottish physicist
  • meter: French word (metre) from the Greek word for measure (metron)
  • mho: Ohm spelt backwards
  • micron: from the Greek word mikron meaning small or little
  • mil: From the Latin word meaning thousand (mille)
  • mile: Old English word from the Latin word for walking a thousand paces (milia)
  • millier: French word from the Latin word milliar for thousand
  • miner: Unknown
  • minim: Latin word for smallest (minimus)
  • minute: Middle Latin for small (minutus)
  • month: Old English word (monath)
  • nail: Unknown
  • newton: Sir Issac Newton
  • noggin: small cup or mug
  • ohm: G.S. Ohm (1787-1854) German physicist
  • ounce: Middle French word (unce) from a Latin word (uncia)
  • pace: Unknown
  • palm: Unknown
  • parsec: Combination of parallax and second
  • pascal: Unknown
  • peck: Old French word (pek)
  • pennyweight: Unknown
  • perch: Unknown
  • phot: from Greek word phos for light
  • pica: Middle Latin collection of church rules in a large font
  • pied: Unknown
  • pint: Middle English (pinte)
  • point: Unknown
  • poise: Middle French meaning weight (pois)
  • pole: Unknown
  • pottle: Middle English word potel from the Middle French word pot
  • pouce: Unknown
  • pound: Old Engish word (pund) from the Latin word for weight (pondus)
  • poundal: Unknown
  • puncheon: Unknown
  • quadrant: Latin word for fourth part (quadrans)
  • quart: Old French for fourth (quarte)
  • quarter: Unknown
  • quartern: Unknown
  • quintal: Unknown
  • quire: Middle French word (quaer) from a Late Latin word for a set of four sheets (quaternum)
  • radian: radius minus us plus an
  • ream: Middle French word (reime) from and Spanish word (rezma)
  • reyn: Unknown
  • rod: Unknown
  • rood: Old English word (rod)
  • scruple: Latin word for small pebble (scrupulus)
  • seam: Unknown
  • second: Old French word from the Latin (secundus)
  • skein: Middle French word for a quantity of thread on a spindle (escaigne)
  • slug: Unknown
  • statute: Latin word for established (statutus)
  • steradian: stereo minus eo plus radian
  • stere: French word from the Greek word stere meaning solid
  • stoke: Sir George Stokes (1819-1903) British physicist
  • stone: Unknown
  • surveyors: Unknown
  • talbot: Unknown
  • tesla: Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) United States physicist and inventor (born in Crotia)
  • toise: French word from Late Latin word tesa which was from the Latin word tensa which means outstretched arms
  • ton: variation of tun
  • tonne: Unknown
  • township: Unknown
  • troy: Middle English word troye from the French word troyes where it was a standard
  • tun: Old English word for a large cask of wine (tunne)
  • vara: Unknown
  • volt: Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) Italian physicist
  • watt: James Watt (1736-1819) Scottish scientist
  • weber: Wilhelm Eduard Weber (1804-1891) German physicist
  • week: Old English (wice)
  • yard: Old English for a stick (yrde)
  • year: Old English (gear)

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    Last updated 04/16/04 - E-mail corrections, suggestions, and/or praise to tallsup@anidatech.com