That is, u is an invertible element of the multiplicative monoid of R. If in the ring, then is not a unit.
Unfortunately, the term unit is also used to refer to the identity element 1R of the ring, in expressions like ring with a unit or unit ring, and also e.g. 'unit' matrix. (For this reason, some authors call 1R "unity", and say that R is a "ring with unity" rather than "ring with a unit". Note also that the term unit matrix more usually denotes a matrix with all diagonal elements equal to one, and all other elements equal to zero.)
If and the sum of any two non-units is not a unit, then the ring is a local ring.
In a commutative unital ring R, the group of units U(R) acts on R via multiplication. The orbits of this action are called sets of associates; in other words, there is an equivalence relation ~ on R called associatedness such that
means that there is a unit u with r = us.
One can check that U is a functor from the category of rings to the category of groups: every ring homomorphism f : R → S induces a group homomorphism U(f) : U(R) → U(S), since f maps units to units. This functor has a left adjoint which is the integral group ring construction.