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Main Entry: ounce
Etymology: Middle English unce, ounce "ounce," from early French unce (same meaning), from Latin uncia "a twelfth part, ounce," from unus "one" --related to INCH, UNITE 1 a: a unit of weight equal to 1/12 troy pound (about 31 grams) -- see MEASURE table b: a unit of weight equal to 1/16 avoirdupois pound (about 28 grams) c: a small amount <an ounce of common sense> 2: FLUID OUNCE Word History The Latin word uncia was used to mean "a twelfth part of something." In reference to length, it meant one-twelfth of a pes "foot." In reference to weight, it meant one-twelfth of a libra "pound." Uncia, as a unit of length, came into Old English as ince or ynce, which became our inch. Uncia, as a unit of weight, came into Middle English from the early French word unce and became our ounce. In the present system of weights used in this country, the pound is divided into sixteen parts instead of twelve. The result is that the ounce, which originally meant one-twelfth, is now equal to one-sixteenth of a pound.