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Why Is ‘lb’ The Abbreviation For ‘Pound’?

February 22, 2012 by staff 

Why Is ‘lb’ The Abbreviation For ‘Pound’?, “The origin is in the Latin word libra, which could mean both balance scales (hence the symbol for the astrological sign Libra, which was named after a constellation that was thought to resemble scales) and also a pound weight, for which the full expression was libra pondo, the second word being the origin of our pound.”

The pound or pound-mass (abbreviations: lb, lbm, lbm) is a unit of mass used in the imperial, United States customary and other systems of measurement. A number of different definitions have been used, the most common today being the international avoirdupois pound which is legally defined as exactly 0.45359237 kilograms.

The unit is descended from the Roman libra (hence the abbreviation “lb”); the name pound is a Germanic adaptation of the Latin phrase libra pondo, ‘a pound weight’.

Usage of the unqualified term pound reflects the historical conflation of mass and weight resulting from the near uniformity of gravity on Earth. This accounts for the modern distinguishing terms pound-mass and pound-force.

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