The hundredweight or centum weight (abbreviated cwt) is a unit of mass defined in terms of the pound (lb). The definition used in Britain differs from that used in North America. The two are distinguished by the terms long hundredweight and short hundredweight:

  • The long hundredweight is defined as 112 lb, which is equal to 50.802345 kg.[1] This is the definition used in the imperial system
  • The short hundredweight is defined as 100 lb, which is equal to 45.359237 kg.[2] This is the definition used in the US customary system. This is also the usual hundredweight in Canada. The short hundredweight is also called a cental, especially in places which normally use the long hundredweight.

Under both conventions, there are twenty hundredweight in a ton, the long ton being 2,240 lb and the short ton being 2,000 lb.

The long and short hundredweight are both descended from the French avoirdupois weight system, which became established in England in Late Medieval times. British custom came to widely use the stone weight, which is 14 pounds, and wished for the hundredweight to be a whole number of stones (and 100 is not a multiple of 14). The stone was not one of the avoirdupois units in Medieval France, and never became customary in the British American colonies or the USA. In 1824 in the UK, new weights and measures legislation made it illegal for merchants to use the word hundredweight in the sense of a hundred pounds. A merchant could be sued for fraud for doing so. In 1879, the hundred pound weight was re-legalized for trade in the UK under the name "cental", in response to legislative pressure from UK merchants who were importing corn and tobacco from the USA.[3]

The short hundredweight is commonly used in USA in the sale of livestock and some cereal grains[4] and oilseeds, paper, and concrete additives and on some commodities in futures exchanges[5] A few decades ago, commodities weighed in terms of long hundredweight included cattle, cattle fodder, fertilizers, coal, some industrial chemicals, other industrial materials, and so on, but since the adoption of the metric system by all English-speaking countries apart from the USA, it is now hardly used other than by church bell ringers[6] but church bell manufacturers are increasingly moving over to the metric system.[7] Before the 15th century in England, a hundredweight was a different unit equal to 108 lb.[8]


  1. ^ Official text of the UK Units of Measurement Regulations 1995 as originally enacted or made within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database , which reiterates for hundredweight the Official text of the Weights and Measures Act 1985 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database .
  2. ^ NIST Guide to the SI
  3. ^ Chapter VII of the book Men and measures: a history of weights and measures, ancient and modern, by Edward Nicholson (published 1912). Downloadable at
  4. ^ William J. Murphy. "Tables for Weights and Measurement: Crops". University of Missouri Extension.
  5. ^ "Rough Rice Futures - Contract specifications". Agricultural products. CME Group. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Scope, Conventions, Abbreviations, etc". Doves Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "Turret Bells". Whitechapel Bell Foundry Limited. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  8. ^ E.g., with a date a little before 1300, the "Tractatus de Ponderibus et Mensuris". Statutes of the Realm. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • hundredweight — ► NOUN (pl. same or hundredweights) 1) (also long hundredweight) Brit. a unit of weight equal to 112 lb (about 50.8 kg). 2) (also short hundredweight) US a unit of weight equal to 100 lb (about 45.4 kg). 3) (also metric hundredweight) a unit of… …   English terms dictionary

  • hundredweight — [hun′drəd wāt΄] n. 1. a unit of weight, equal to 100 pounds avoirdupois (45.3592 kilograms): the British hundredweight equals 112 pounds avoirdupois or 50.8023 kilograms 2. a unit of weight, equal to 100 pounds troy (37.3242 kilograms) Symbol,… …   English World dictionary

  • Hundredweight — Hun dred*weight , n. A denomination of weight, containing 100, 112, or 120 pounds avoirdupois, according to differing laws or customs. By the legal standard of England it is 112 pounds. In most of the United States, both in practice and by law,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hundredweight — spr. Höndr duweht), englisches Handelsgewicht, s.u. Centner A) a) …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Hundredweight — (spr. hönndred wët), s.Centweight …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hundredweight — Hundredweight, abgekürzt Cwt, Gewicht, in England = 112 engl. Pfund = 50,8024 kg. In den Vereinigten Staaten, in Kanada und Jamaika benutzt man statt des Cwt das Cental (s.d.) zu 45,359 kg …   Lexikon der gesamten Technik

  • Hundredweight — (spr. hönndrĕdweht), Handelsgewicht = 112 engl. Pfd. = 50,802 kg. (S. auch A voirdupois.) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Hundredweight — (höndrdweht), der engl. Centner = 1 Zollctr. 7,8 Pfd …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • hundredweight — 100 pounds. Abbreviated as cwt. Chicago Mercantile Exchange Glossary * * * hundredweight hun‧dred‧weight [ˈhʌndrdweɪt] written abbreviation cwt noun [countable] a unit for measuring weight equal to 112 pounds or 50.9 kilograms: • a hundredweight …   Financial and business terms

  • hundredweight — (Cwt or cwt)    a traditional unit of weight equal to 1/20 ton.    The hundredweight is the English version of a commercial unit used throughout Europe and known in other countries as the quintal or the zentner. In general, this unit is larger… …   Dictionary of units of measurement

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