Hundredweight

Hundredweight

[huhn-drid-weyt]
Hundred weight or hundredweight is a unit of measurement for mass in U.S. customary units and was historically used in the Imperial system in the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth. However, its definition differs in the two systems.

  • In Imperial units, a hundredweight ('long') is defined as 112 pounds avoirdupois, or 8 stone, or four quarters (50.80234544 kg). This is so close to 50 kg that the transition to metric equivalents has been easy.
  • In U.S. customary units, a hundredweight ('short') is defined as 100 pounds (equivalent to 45.359237 kg). The short hundredweight is also the normal hundredweight in Canada.
    • The short hundredweight is also called a cental (which never means a long hundredweight), especially in places which normally use the long hundredweight. See Conversion of units

In both systems, there are twenty hundredweights to a ton – the long ton of 2240 pounds (approximately equal to a metric tonne), and the short ton of 2000 pounds. In both systems, the hundredweight is abbreviated cwt, where wt is an abbreviation for weight and c is an abbreviation for one hundred (since the Roman numeral C is equal to 100).

Prior to the 15th century in England, a hundredweight used the old hundred of 108 lb, giving a ton of 2160 pounds. In some industries (notably forges) this old hundred was retained somewhat longer. The London hundredweight of 112 pounds eventually replaced the old hundred.

The short hundredweight is commonly used in the sale of livestock and some cereal grains and oilseeds and on futures exchanges. The long hundredweight is now little used in any country, except sometimes for measuring the bells used for change ringing.

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