pound

Definitions

General English

Accounting

  • noun a unit of currency used in the UK and many other countries including Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon, Malta, Sudan, Syria and, before the euro, Ireland

Electronics

  • A unit of mass equal to exactly 453.59237 grams. Also called pound mass.
  • A unit of mass equal to approximately 373.242 grams. Used in certain contexts, such as the indication of mass of precious metals or stones.
  • A unit of weight or force equal to the force of gravity on one pound (1). This value varies by location, and is equal to approximately 4.44822 newtons. Also abbreviated lbf, which is more proper than lb. Also called pound force.

Food

  • The original unit of weight in the British system still in use in the USA and equal to 453.6 g. Divided into 16 ounces. Abbreviated lb. It still lingers on in mainland Europe, e.g. the french livre, but is taken as being 500 g.
  • verb to bruise, break up and crush any hard food item to reduce it to a smooth consistency or a fine powder
  • verb to beat meat in order to tenderise it or flatten it into, e.g., an escalope

Medical

  • noun a measure of weight equal to about 450 grams

Publishing

  • noun a measure of weight equalling 0.45 kilos

Origin & History of “pound”

English has three distinct words pound. The measure of weight and unit of currency (OE) goes back ultimately to Latin pondō ‘12-ounce weight’, a relative of pondus ‘weight’ (source of English ponder) and pendere ‘weigh’ (source of English pension and poise). It was borrowed into prehistoric Germanic as *pundo, which has evolved into German pfund. Dutch pond, Swedish pund, and English pound. Its monetary use comes from the notion of a ‘pound’ weight of silver.

Pound ‘enclosure’ (14th c.) is of unknown origin. It existed in Old English times in the compound pundfald, which has become modern English pinfold, and pond is a variant form of it.

Pound ‘crush’ (OE) is almost equally mysterious. In Old English it was pūnian (it did not acquire its final d until the 16th century, in fact), and it has been traced back to a Germanic *pūn-, which also produced Dutch puin ‘rubbish’.
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