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Etymology edit

From Middle English avoir de pois, aver de peis, haburdy poyse, haburdepays, haburdepeyse, from Old French aveir + de + peis (asset of weight), influenced by Middle French avoir + du + pois; compare French poids (weight).

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

avoirdupois (usually uncountable, plural avoirdupoises)

  1. (historical) The official system of weights used in the UK between 1856 and 1963. It had been the customary system in London since 1300.
  2. (historical) The official system of weights used in the USA between 1866 and 1959.
  3. (chiefly humorous) Weight; heaviness.
    • 1915, Jack London, The Little Lady of the Big House[1]:
      It seems humanly reasonable that the three of us can woman-handle a mere man of your elderly and insulting avoirdupois.
    • 2012, Frank Lean, Boiling Point[2]:
      The detective sergeant, who was called Munro, more than made up for Cullen's advance in the avoirdupois department. Lean to the point of emaciation, Munro was also a paragon of contemporary fashion. He was clad in a hideous brown suit []
  4. (obsolete) Merchandise.
    • 1357, John Mandeville, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville[3], modernized spelling edition:
      From that mountain go men to the city of Thauriso that was wont to be clept Taxis, that is a full fair city and a great, and one of the best that is in the world for merchandise; thither come all merchants for to buy avoirdupois, and it is in the land of the Emperor of Persia.

Derived terms edit

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