Why Are Pound and Ounce Abbreviated as “lb” and “oz?”

The pound comes from a Roman unit of measurement called the libra. To be exact, the pound comes from the termlibra pondo, which means a “pound by weight.” Thelibrais no longer in use, which is why the pound is called the pound in modern times.

With that said, it is important to note that there wasn’t a single unit of measurement called the pound. Instead, there was a number of them. For example, there was the troy pound, which comes from a system that started seeing use so long ago that we can’t be sure about the exact manner in which it came into existence. However, the most popular line of speculation is that troy pounds and other troy weights are named for the French market town of Troyes, which was seeing business from English merchants as far back as the early 9th century. Nowadays, troy weights are no longer in widespread use, but they have nonetheless managed to retain a presence in the context of precious metals.

Of course, there were other kinds of pounds besides the troy pound. For example, there was the Tower pound, which is a more common name for King Offa’s pound that was set at the combined weight of 120Arabic silver dirhams. Likewise, there was the London pound, which was never used as a legal standard in England but instead saw use because of its elevated status in the Hanseatic League. As a result, when the Hanseatic League waned in power, the use of the London pound waned as well.

For those who are curious, the current unit of measurement called the pound is the avoirdupois pound. This isn’t a modern unit of measurement, seeing as how it started seeing use at around 1300. However, the avoirdupois pound has seen some changes to its meaning over the course of its existence. For example, it was redefined as7,000 troy grains under Queen Elizabeth I of England. However, the current definition of the avoirdupois pound is0.45359237 kilograms, which should make it clear that it was a relatively recent introduction.

Why Is Pound Abbreviated as lb?

As for why the pound is abbreviated as lb, well, this is a case of the unit of measurement being old enough that the abbreviation is a reference to a language that no longer sees much use. Simply put, since pound comes fromlibra pondo, it shouldn’t be too difficult to see that lb comes fromlibra, which was the predecessor to the various units of measurement called the pound. Besides this, interested individuals should be able to see the influence of thelibrain the British symbol for the pound.

How Did the Ounce Come Into Existence?

Since the pound can be divided into a neat number of ounces, it should come as no surprise to learn that these units of measurement have been tied together for a long time. For example, troy weights include both troy pounds and troy ounces. However, it is particularly important to note that the ounce wasn’t just something that saw use in England because it can also trace its origins to Roman units of measurement.

Why Is Ounce Abbreviated As oz?

To be exact, the modern ounce can trace its origins to the Romanuncia. Suffice to say thatunciawinded up inspiring a number of units of measurement in a number of regions. The English ounce comes from Anglo-Norman French, which rendered it as eitherunceorounce. However, the choice of oz for the ounce’s abbreviation actually comes from the Medieval Italian version, which wasonza.

As for why Medieval Italy mattered so much, well, there was a time when the Italian city-states played very important roles in the world of business. In part, this was because of their strategic location, which put them between various trade routes that moved much wealth between various places. However, it should also be noted that Italian city-states weren’t shy about making use of their wealth to carve out spheres of influence, with an excellent example being how Genoa had colonies in the Crimea. As a result, the Italian city-states were once very influential, which in turn, means that Italian terms were pretty important as well.


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