AskDefine | Define hundredweight

Dictionary Definition



1 a unit of weight equal to 100 kilograms [syn: metric hundredweight, doppelzentner, centner]
2 a United States unit of weight equivalent to 100 pounds [syn: cwt, short hundredweight, centner, cental, quintal]
3 a British unit of weight equivalent to 112 pounds [syn: cwt, long hundredweight]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A measure of weight containing 100 pounds (45.5 kg) in the U.S. or 112 pounds (51 kg) in the United Kingdom.
    • 1882: The hundredweight of 112 avoirdupois lbs. becomes general in the period before me, and is employed for the commoner kinds of materials. — James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, Volume 4, p. 209.

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Extensive Definition

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. In the UK and Ireland, the few household commodities that were commonly sold by the hundredweight, such as coal and some building materials, are now sold in 50 kg or 25 kg quantities. For most purposes metric units are now in use in the UK, while other Commonwealth countries and Ireland have adopted the metric system in full.
hundredweight in Aymara: Patakachata
hundredweight in German: Zentner
hundredweight in Estonian: Tsentner
hundredweight in Spanish: Centena (unidad de masa)
hundredweight in Esperanto: Kvintalo
hundredweight in French: Quintal (unité)
hundredweight in Italian: Quintale
hundredweight in Japanese: ハンドレッドウェイト
hundredweight in Polish: Cetnar
hundredweight in Portuguese: Quintal
hundredweight in Russian: Центнер
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