from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. See ton.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The Avoirdupois or Imperial ton of 2,240 pounds.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a British unit of weight equivalent to 2240 pounds


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  • No, I was curious too, once you mentioned it. But I have to tell you, you're the only person I've ever met who can say, "I know a cooper I can ask about this." Wow.

    November 7, 2007

  • I guess that would make sense, if a tun was a standardized size and weight, and it ended up being around 2,240 pounds when full. Of course it's hard to standardize the weight/size of custom-built containers (though I know a cooper I can ask about this). If, say, a tun always had to be made of oak and fit a certain number of liquid gallons, then there could have been a standard weight.

    Anyway, it doesn't mean *you* have to go looking for the answer! I was just musing out loud. Er... in type, I mean.

    November 7, 2007

  • Ah, okay. Gotcha. So maybe this helps: Seems that in Old England, a "tun" was a large cask used to store wine. The tuns were more or less of standard size, so the tun came to represent not only a volume unit (the capacity of the cask) but also a weight unit (the weight of the cask when full). Although I doubt they held what we consider a ton today!

    Is that what you're looking for, though?

    November 7, 2007

  • No, 2,000 is definitely more round than 2,240, but it still isn't exactly round in the metric sense. Why, then, is it 2,000 and not 1,000, or 10,000?

    I'm wondering if the answer is something like that (possibly apocryphal) story about standard railroad gauges being the width they are because that was allegedly the width of a Roman chariot--and that width led to a standard width of carts, which led to wagons and carriages, which led to railroads. I don't know if that story is true--though I think it would be the coolest thing ever if it were--but such stories do make me wonder when I come across measurements like a foot being 12 inches (why 12?) and a yard being 3 feet (why 3?) and the long ton being 2,240 pounds.

    It makes me wonder if 2,240 pounds was the amount of X (a commonly traded material, probably in England--say, wool) that fit into a standard cart, or something like that.

    November 7, 2007

  • I think the term is used to distinguish it from the U.S. ton (which is sometimes called a short ton). And as you know, a U.S. ton equals 2,000 pounds, which is more round than 2,240. Or am I talking in circles?

    November 7, 2007

  • Does anybody know how this rather non-round number came to mean a long ton?

    November 6, 2007

  • The traditional British ton, equal to 2,240 pounds.

    November 6, 2007