This article is about the unit of mass. For the unit of force, see Pound-force. For the unit of volume, see Fluid ounce. For all other uses, see Ounce (disambiguation).

The ounce (abbreviated: oz, the old Italian word onza, now spelled oncia; apothecary symbol: ) is a unit of mass with several definitions, the most commonly used of which are equal to approximately 28 grams. The ounce is used in a number of different systems, including various systems of mass that form part of the imperial and United States customary systems. Its size can vary from system to system. The most commonly used ounces today are the international avoirdupois ounce and the international troy ounce.



Ounce derives from Latin uncia, a unit that was one twelfth (1/12)[1] of the Roman pound (libra). Ounce was borrowed twice: first into Old English as ynsan or yndsan from an unattested Vulgar Latin form with ts for c before i (palatalization) and second into Middle English through Anglo-Norman and Middle French (unce, once, ounce).[2]

Inch comes from the same Latin word, but is different because it was borrowed into Old English and underwent i-mutation or umlaut (u → y) and palatalization (k → ch).


Historically, in different parts of the world, at different points in time, and for different applications, the ounce (or its translation) has referred to broadly similar but different standards of mass.

Summary of ounce units
ounce variant equivalent in grams equivalent in grains
International avoirdupois ounce 28.3495231 437.5
International troy ounce 31.1034768 480
Apothecaries' ounce
Maria Theresa ounce 28.0668  
Spanish ounce 28.75  
Dutch metric ounce 100  
Chinese metric ounce 50  

International avoirdupois ounce

The avoirdupois ounce is the most commonly used ounce today. It is defined to be one sixteenth of an avoirdupois pound. The avoirdupois pound is defined as 7000 grains; one ounce is therefore equal to 437.5 grains.

In 1958 the United States and countries of the Commonwealth of Nations agreed to define the international avoirdupois ounce to be exactly 0.4535923716 kg (28.349523125 g) by definition.

The ounce is commonly used as a unit of mass in the United States.

On January 1, 2000, it ceased to be a legal unit of measure within the United Kingdom for economic, health, safety or administrative purposes[3] but remains a familiar unit, especially amongst older people.

International troy ounce

A troy ounce (abbreviated as t oz) is equal to 480 grains. Consequently, the international troy ounce is equal to exactly 31.1034768 grams. There are 12 troy ounces in the now obsolete troy pound.

Today, the troy ounce is used only to express the mass of precious metals such as gold, platinum, palladium or silver. Bullion coins are the most common products produced and marketed in troy ounces, but precious metal bars also exist in gram and kilogram(kg) sizes. (A kilogram bullion bar contains 32.15074657 troy ounces.)

For historical measurement of gold,

  • a fine ounce is a troy ounce of 99.5% (".995") pure gold
  • a standard ounce is a troy ounce of 22 carat gold, 91.66% pure (an 11 to 1 proportion of gold to alloy material)
  • in modern day, an ounce of gold (1 troy ounce) is referred as a 99.99% pure gold piece or gold grains (gold shot)

Apothecaries' ounce

The obsolete apothecaries' ounce (abbreviated ) equivalent to the troy ounce, was formerly used by apothecaries (now called pharmacists or chemists).[citation needed]

Maria Theresa ounce

"Maria Theresa ounce" was once introduced in Ethiopia and some European countries, which was equal to the weight of one Maria Theresa thaler, or 28.0668 g.[4][5] Both the weight and the value are the definition of one "Birr", still in use in present-day Ethiopia and formerly in Eritrea.[citation needed]

Spanish ounce

The Spanish pound (Spanish libra) was 460 g.[6] The Spanish ounce (Spanish onza) was 116 of a pound, i.e. 28.75 g.[7]

Metric ounces

Some countries have redefined their ounces in the metric system.[8]

In 1820, the Dutch redefined their ounce (in Dutch, ons) as 100 grams.[9][10] Dutch amendments to the metric system, such as an ons of 100 grams, has been inherited, adopted, and taught in Indonesia beginning in elementary school. It is also listed as standard usage in Indonesia's national dictionary, the Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia, and the government's official elementary‐school curriculum.[citation needed]

East Asia has a traditional ounce, known as a tael, of varying value. In China, it has been given a metric value of 50 grams.[citation needed]


An ounce force is 1/16 of a pound-force, or 0.2780139 newton. It is not necessary to identify it as an avoirdupois ounce; there is no troy ounce-force.[clarification needed]

Fluid ounce

A fluid ounce (abbreviated fl oz, fl. oz. or oz. fl.) is a unit of volume equal to about 28 ml in the imperial system or about 30 ml in the US system. The fluid ounce is sometimes referred to simply as an "ounce" in applications where its use is implicit. The imperial fluid ounce is also equivalent to the volume occupied by 1 imperial ounce of water weighed in air at 62 °F.

Other uses

Fabric weight

Ounces are also used to express the "weight", or more accurately density, of a textile fabric in North America, Asia or the UK, as in "16 oz denim". The number refers to the weight in ounces of a given amount of fabric, either a yard of a given width, or a square yard.[11][12]

Notes and references

  1. ^ uncia. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary on Perseus Project.
  2. ^ "ounce". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2nd ed. 1989.
  3. ^ "The Units of Measurement Regulations 1995 (Article 4)". 2000-09-20. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1995/Uksi_19951804_en_1.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  4. ^ Greenfield, Richard (1965). Ethiopia: a new political history. F. A. Praeger. p. 327. http://books.google.com/books?id=T2MFAAAAIAAJ&q=%22Maria+theresa+ounce%22&dq=%22Maria+theresa+ounce%22&hl=en&ei=BVTJTtKSHo3YiALR4pX1Dw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAQ. 
  5. ^ Ethiopia observer. 6. 1962. pp. 187-8. http://books.google.com/books?id=EfvRAAAAMAAJ&q=%22Maria+theresa+ounce%22&dq=%22Maria+theresa+ounce%22&hl=en&ei=BVTJTtKSHo3YiALR4pX1Dw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA. 
  6. '^ Diccionario de la Real Academia Española, 23rd edition, libra
  7. ^ Diccionario de la Real Academia Española, 23rd edition, onza
  8. ^ D.A Wittop Koning & G.M.M Houben, 2000 jaar gewichten in de nederlanden,De Tijdstroom, Lochem-Poperinge, 1980.
  9. ^ "Guide to The Hague – Where to turn". Archived from the original on 2008-03-16. http://web.archive.org/web/20080316071124/http://www.outpostthehague.com/relocations/insideguide/wheretoturn.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  10. ^ "Nederlands metriek stelsel". http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nederlands_metriek_stelsel. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  11. ^ "How to shop the fabric market". http://www.fashiondex.com/howtos/htstfm4.php. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  12. ^ "How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement". http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/dictO.html#ounce. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • ounce — S3 [auns] n written abbreviation oz [Date: 1300 1400; : Old French; Origin: unce, from Latin uncia twelfth part, ounce ] 1.) a unit for measuring weight, equal to 28.35 grams. There are 16 ounces in a pound. →↑fluid ounce 2.) …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Ounce — (ouns), n. [F. once, fr. L. uncia a twelfth, the twelfth part of a pound or of a foot: cf. Gr. o gkos bulk, mass, atom. Cf. 2d {Inch}, {Oke}.] 1. A weight, the sixteenth part of a pound avoirdupois, and containing 28.35 grams or 4371/2 grains.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ounce — 〈[ aʊns] f.; , s [ aʊnsız]; 〉 in den USA u. Großbritannien übliche Gewichtseinheit, 1 oz = 28,35 g * * * Ounce   [aʊns, englisch] die, / s, deutsch Unze, Einheitenzeichen oz, ältere Masseneinheit in Großbritannien und in den USA: im …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Ounce — Ounce, n. [F. once; cf. It. lonza, Sp. onza; prob. for lonce, taken as l once, fr. L. lynx, Gr. ?, or an (assumed) fem. adj. lyncea, from lynx. Cf. {Lynx}.] (Zo[ o]l.) A feline quadruped ({Felis irbis} syn. {Felis uncia}) resembling the leopard… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ounce — ● ounce nom féminin (anglais ounce, du français once) Unité anglaise de masse (symbole oz), dans le système des mesures avoirdupois, égale à 1°16 de pound (environ 28,35 g). ounce [uns] n. f. ÉTYM. XXe; mot angl., du franç. once. → 1. Once. ❖ ♦… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • ounce — [aʊns] written abbreviation oz. noun [countable] a measurement of weight equal to 28.35 grams * * * ounce UK US /aʊns/ noun [C] (WRITTEN ABBREVIATION oz) ► [C] MEASURES a unit of weight equal to 28.35 grams: » …   Financial and business terms

  • ounce — ounce1 [ouns] n. [OFr unce < L uncia, a twelfth, twelfth part of a foot or pound, orig., unit, akin to L unus,ONE] 1. a) a unit of weight, equal to 1/ 16 pound avoirdupois or 16 drams (28.3495 grams) b) a unit of weight, equal to 1/ 12 pound… …   English World dictionary

  • Ounce — Ounce, im englischen Gewichtssystem = 1/16 Pound avoirdupois (Handelspfund) = 16 Drams oder 28,35 g. Ferner 1 Ounce = 1/12 Imperial Troy Pound = 20 Penny Weight oder 31,1035 g …   Lexikon der gesamten Technik

  • Ounce — [auns] die; , s [ aunsiz] <aus gleichbed. engl. ounce, dies über altfr. unce aus lat. uncia »Unze«> engl. Gewichtseinheit (28,35 g); Abk.: oz …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • Ounce — (engl., spr. Auns; d.i. Unze), Gewicht 1) in England a) als Handelsgewicht der 16. Theil eines Pfundes (Avoir dupois), also 1 O. = 28,3 Grammes = 1,69 deutsches Zollloth; getheilt in[527] 16 Drams (Drachmen); b) als Apotheker , Münz , Golo u.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Ounce — (spr. aunß, »Unze«), engl. Gewicht: im Probiergewicht für Silber 1/12 des Pfundes = 20 Pennyweights; im Feingewicht ebenso (abgekürzt oz.) = 480 Grains Troy = 31,1035 g; im Arzneigewicht zu 8 Drams bis August 1878 die Troyunze, aber gewöhnlich… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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