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stone

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stone

Postby aviatrix » Sun Aug 20, 2006 3:13 pm

As an engineer and pilot, I am often involved with problems concerning mass and weight. Stone, as used to mean 14 pounds, always intrigued me, mostly from an etymological and cultural standpoint. Great Britain uses it, but was it ever common in the United States?
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Postby Perry » Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:13 am

I don't recall it being used as a weight in the US; but the word figures into a lot of slang.

Stone cold.
Stone crazy.
Getting stoned.
Etc.
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Postby Bailey » Mon Aug 21, 2006 12:44 pm

but it's alright ma, everyone must get stoned.

mark from-an-embarrassing-incident-in-my-youth Bailey

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Postby Stargzer » Mon Aug 21, 2006 1:16 pm

Bailey wrote:but it's alright ma, everyone must get stoned.

mark from-an-embarrassing-incident-in-my-youth Bailey


So, you weren't bleeding on that rainy day?
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Postby Palewriter » Mon Aug 21, 2006 1:33 pm

The stone is not a US measure, nor has it been, as far as I can tell, since Colonial times. The stone was officially fixed at 14lb by legislation in the year 1352. Following independence, the US adopted a system based on a hundredweight (cwt) of 100lb, while the British chose a system based on the 112lb hundredweight. So the US ton (known as the short ton) is 2000lb, while the British (long) ton is 2240lb. Since a stone is 14lb, eight stone makes a British (long) hundredweight, while the number of stone in an American (short) hundredweight would be 7.1428 - obviously not a very practical unit of measure, especially before the age of pocket calculators. The stone is therefore not used in the US. In the UK - despite the fact that the British are said to be inching towards the metric system - stone is generally used to express a person's weight.

As an interesting aside, the US gallon is the same as the old British "wine gallon" as established in 1707. The Brits adopted the Imperial gallon (legislated in the 1824 Weights and Measures Act). The US gallon is 128 fl. oz., while the Imperial gallon is 160 fl. oz.

A weighty topic, indeed. Now, don't get me started on the subject of monetary systems. I still miss my Pounds, Shillings and Pence.


-- PW
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Postby Bailey » Mon Aug 21, 2006 1:38 pm

Stargzer wrote:
Bailey wrote:but it's alright ma, everyone must get stoned.

mark from-an-embarrassing-incident-in-my-youth Bailey


So, you weren't bleeding on that rainy day?

not exactly, I; a total nerd, quoted P. Simon who was quoting Dylan and couldn't figure out why everyone laughed.

mark-still-a-nerd Bailey

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stone

Postby aviatrix » Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:10 pm

Thanks to PW for the excellent explanation.
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Postby gailr » Mon Aug 21, 2006 11:00 pm

Palewriter wrote:...while the number of stone in an American (short) hundredweight would be 7.1428 - obviously not a very practical unit of measure, especially before the age of pocket calculators.

Nope, we colonials hung on to the more sensible units of measure, such as the furlong (now relegated to horse racing) [= 40 rods = 10 chains = 220 yards = 660 feet = 1/8 mile]; the fat quarter (darling of quilters) [yard of fabric = 36" long by 44" wide; a fat quarter is 18" x 22"]; and the fifth (alcohol, not music, and it seems cruel indeed to put a drinker through this kind of math!) [= 4/5 quart = 1/5 gallon = 757.084 ml].

-gailr
Don't even get me started on the month, which can be 28, 29, 30, or 31 days, depending on some very suspect calculations.
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Postby skinem » Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:16 am

Don't forget other sensible standards of measure. Such as the fathom (measure of water depth=6 feet), the barrel (31 gallons of fermented beverage, or 42 gallons of oil), penny (size of a nail, perhaps from the original price per hundred), the acre (equal to 43,560 square feet), and the acre-foot ( a measurement of irrigation--the volume of water that would cover an acre to a depth of one foot).
Yup, all these measurements make sense and are uniform!
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Postby Palewriter » Tue Aug 22, 2006 11:51 am

gailr wrote:
Palewriter wrote:...while the number of stone in an American (short) hundredweight would be 7.1428 - obviously not a very practical unit of measure, especially before the age of pocket calculators.

Nope, we colonials hung on to the more sensible units of measure, such as the furlong (now relegated to horse racing) [= 40 rods = 10 chains = 220 yards = 660 feet = 1/8 mile]; the fat quarter (darling of quilters) [yard of fabric = 36" long by 44" wide; a fat quarter is 18" x 22"]; and the fifth (alcohol, not music, and it seems cruel indeed to put a drinker through this kind of math!) [= 4/5 quart = 1/5 gallon = 757.084 ml].

-gailr
Don't even get me started on the month, which can be 28, 29, 30, or 31 days, depending on some very suspect calculations.


The metric system is based on the kind of rational, enlightened principles with which the Lord seems to choose only to bless the French.

After the Revolution, their Academy of Sciences chose as the definition of a meter a length ten-millionths of the meridian distance between the North Pole, through Paris (naturally) to the Equator. There's rational for you. Of course, they messed it up by an inch or so, but it sure sounded rational and enlightened at the time, I'm sure. Today, the best definition of a meter is the length travelled by light in a vacuum in a 1/299,792,458th of a second. Nice and easy to remember, right?

Personally, I prefer an anthropocentric approach to the rather pedestrian geocentric approach. I mean, a foot is....um...a foot. At least mine is. I also like measurements that leave room for some imagination, like "a pinch" or "a dash" or "a while" or even "a $hitload". Not to mention "a wee dram."

Think I'll put my two bits
On cubits

-- PW
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Postby Perry » Tue Aug 22, 2006 1:26 pm

Personally, I prefer an anthropocentric approach to the rather pedestrian geocentric approach. I mean, a foot is....um...a foot. At least mine is. I also like measurements that leave room for some imagination, like "a pinch" or "a dash" or "a while" or even "a $hitload". Not to mention "a wee dram."

Think I'll put my two bits
On cubits

-- PW


I also like the measurments that are as much expressions as measures. But for day to day usage, I prefer the metric system. I don't care if the rational for setting the meter is flawed. I just like the way the units relate to each other.

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Postby Bailey » Tue Aug 22, 2006 1:41 pm

Let us not forget the acre, please! 160 sqare rods?
a·cre (kr)
n.
1. Abbr. a. or ac. A unit of area in the U.S. Customary System, used in land and sea floor measurement and equal to 160 square rods, 4,840 square yards, or 43,560 square feet. See Table at measurement.
2. acres Property in the form of land; estate.
3. A wide expanse, as of land or other matter. Often used in the plural: "Everything was streaky pink marble and acres of textureless carpeting" Anne Tyler.
4. Archaic A field or plot of arable land.


[Middle English aker, field, acre, from Old English æcer; see agro- in Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


ThesaurusLegend: Synonyms Related Words AntonymsNoun 1. acre - a unit of area (4840 square yards) used in English-speaking countries
area unit, square measure - a system of units used to measure areas
2. Acre - a territory of western Brazil bordering on Bolivia and Peru
district, territorial dominion, territory, dominion - a region marked off for administrative or other purposes
3. Acre - a town and port in northwestern Israel in the eastern Mediterranean
Accho, Akka, Akko
port - a place (seaport or airport) where people and merchandise can enter or leave a country
town - an urban area with a fixed boundary that is smaller than a city; "they drive through town on their way to work"
Israel, State of Israel, Yisrael, Zion, Sion - Jewish republic in southwestern Asia at eastern end of Mediterranean; formerly part of Palestine
Noun 1. rod - a linear measure of 16.5 feet
[quote]
nowhere have I measured anything by a rod.

mark get-a-chalkline Bailey
Last edited by Bailey on Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby aviatrix » Tue Aug 22, 2006 4:39 pm

Palewriter wrote:

...the fat quarter (darling of quilters) [yard of fabric = 36" long by 44" wide; a fat quarter is 18" x 22"];


But why is a fat quarter fat? It sounds like it's just a quarter, no more!
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Postby gailr » Tue Aug 22, 2006 8:06 pm

aviatrix wrote:But why is a fat quarter fat? It sounds like it's just a quarter, no more!

Fabric is generally cut perpendicular to the selvage edges. Thus, a quarter yard would be a 9" long x 44" wide; this affects cutting for larger prints or some patterns. A fat quarter gives a more usable piece to start from for some types of projects. Hope that clears it up.


Other interesting divisions: when blending oils for perfumes and such, I am amused by recipes using apothecary measurements.
1 ounce = 8 drams = 60 grains; 1 scruple = 20 grains. Contemporary "drops" (albeit sometimes imprecise) are easier to count, although they don't sound as exotic...

-gailr
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Postby aviatrix » Tue Aug 22, 2006 9:32 pm

So if you say "I don't give a dram," that's a little more than 1/3 of a scruple?

Thanks for the explanation of the fat quarter; it was driving me nuts (and it's a short putt).
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