:"This article deals with the unit of force. For the unit of mass see Pound (mass)."The pound-force or simply pound (abbreviations: lb, lbf, or lbf) is a unit of force.


The pound-force is approximately equal to the gravitational force exerted on a mass of one avoirdupois pound on the surface of Earth. Since the 18th century, the unit has been used in low-precision measurements, for which small changes in Earth's gravity (which varies from place to place by up to half a percent)can safely be neglected. [Acceleration due to gravity varies over the surface of the Earth, generally increasing from about 9.78 m/s² (32.1 ft/s²) at the equator to about 9.83 m/s² (32.3 ft/s²) at the poles.]

The 20th century, however, brought the need for a more precise definition. A standardized value for acceleration due to gravity was therefore needed. Today, in accordance with the General Conference on Weights and Measures, standard gravity is usually taken to be 9.80665 m/s² (approximately 32.17405 ft/s²) [In 1901 the [http://www1.bipm.org/en/CGPM/db/3/2/ third CGPM] declared (second resolution) that:"The value adopted in the International Service of Weights and Measures for the standard acceleration due to Earth's gravity is 980.665 cm/s², value already stated in the laws of some countries."This value was the conventional reference for calculating the kilogram-force, a unit of force whose use has been deprecated since the introduction of SI.] [Barry N. Taylor, " [http://physics.nist.gov/Pubs/SP811/sp811.html/appenB8.html#P Guide for the Use of the International System of Units (SI)] ", 1995, NIST Special Publication 811, Appendix B note 24] but other values have been used, including 32.16 ft/s² (approximately 9.80237 m/s²). [J. Edmond Shrader, "Physics for Students of Applied Science," McGraw Hill, 1st ed., 1937, p. 24.]

From the acceleration of the standard gravitational field and the international avoirdupois pound, we arrive at the following definition: [The international avoirdupois pound is defined to be exactly 0.45359237 kg.]


Sixteen avoirdupois ounces (as a unit of mass) are equal to one avoirdupois pound (as a unit of mass). Similarly one ounce-force is equal to a sixteenth of a pound-force.

Use of "pound" as a unit of force

In some contexts, the term "pound" is used almost exclusively to refer to the unit of force and not the unit of mass. In those applications, the preferred unit of mass is the slug, i.e. lbf·s²/ft. In other contexts, the unit "pound" refers to a unit of mass. In circumstances where there may otherwise be ambiguity, the symbols "lbf" and "lbm" and the terms "pounds-force" and "pounds-mass" can be used to distinguish.

Three common, equally valid foot-pound-second (fps) systems of units for doing calculations with mass and force are summarized in the table below, which also includes the corresponding metric units.

In the "engineering" fps system, the weight of the mass unit (pound-mass) on Earth's surface is approximately equal to the force unit (pound-force). The price for this convenience is that the force unit is not equal to the mass unit multiplied by the acceleration unit [The acceleration unit is the distance unit divided by the time unit squared.] —the use of Newton's Second Law, "F = ma", requires another factor, "gc", usually taken to be 32.17405 lb·ft/(lbf·s²). The "gravitational" fps system is a "coherent" system of units: by using the slug as the unit of mass, it avoids the need for such a constant. The "absolute" system is similarly coherent; the SI units are those of the "absolute" metric system.

See also

* Weight for a more complete discussion of customary units of force and mass
* Pounds per square inch, a unit of pressure
* Foot-pounds, a unit of work (energy), or torque
* Mass versus weight for the difference between the two physical properties
* Pound-mass

Notes and references

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • pound force — noun 1. The gravitational force of 1lb weight and mass 2. A unit of such force (abbrev lbf) • • • Main Entry: ↑pound * * * pound force, = poundal. (Cf. ↑poundal) Abbr: lbf (no periods) …   Useful english dictionary

  • Pound-Force —   [ paʊndfɔːs], Einheitenzeichen lbf, Einheit der Kraft in Großbritannien, definiert als die Kraft, die einem Körper mit der Masse 1 Pound (lb) die Normalfallbeschleunigung erteilt, 1 lbf = 4,4482216 Newton …   Universal-Lexikon

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  • pound force — (lbf or lb)    a traditional unit of force. Traditional measuring systems did not distinguish between force and mass units. A force of one pound is simply the gravitational force experienced at the Earth s surface by a mass of one pound. To… …   Dictionary of units of measurement

  • Pound-force — Einheit Norm Angloamerikanisches Maßsystem Einheitenname Pound force Einheitenzeichen lb, lbf, lbf Dimensionsname Kraft Dimensionssymbol F In …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • pound force — Force applied to a 1 lb. mass; has an acceleration of 32.173 ft/s2 …   Dictionary of automotive terms

  • pound-force — /pownd fawrs , fohrs /, n. Physics. a foot pound second unit of force, equal to the force that produces an acceleration equal to the acceleration of gravity when acting on a mass of one pound. Abbr.: lbf [1895 1900] * * * …   Universalium

  • pound-force — /pownd fawrs , fohrs /, n. Physics. a foot pound second unit of force, equal to the force that produces an acceleration equal to the acceleration of gravity when acting on a mass of one pound. Abbr.: lbf [1895 1900] …   Useful english dictionary

  • pound-force — /paʊnd ˈfɔs/ (say pownd faws) noun a unit of force in the f.p.s. system, equal to the gravitational force acting on a mass of one pound, approx. equal to 32.174 pdl or 4.45 newtons. Symbol: lbf …   Australian English dictionary

  • pound-force — noun A unit of force equal to a mass of one avoirdupois pound times a standard acceleration of gravity, equal to about 4.44822 newtons. Symbol lbf or lb …   Wiktionary

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