American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A decimal system of units based on the meter as a unit length, the kilogram as a unit mass, and the second as a unit time. See Table at measurement.
- n. The system of measurements developed in France in the 1790s and now used worldwide.
- n. The modern version of that system, Systeme Internationale d'Unites (International System of Units), or SI system of measurements that is based on the base units of the meter/metre, the kilogram, the second, the ampere, the kelvin, the mole, and the candela.
GNU Webster's 1913
- adj. See metric system in the vocabulary.
- n. A system of weights and measures originating in France, the use of which is required by law in many countries, and permitted in many others, including the United States; the system is also called by its French name,
Le Système International de Unités(abbreviated SI). The principal unit of length is the meter(see meter). From this are formed the are, the liter, the stere, the gram, etc. These units, and others derived from them, are divided decimally, and larger units are formed from multiples by 10, 100, 1,000, and 10,000. The successive multiplies are designated by the prefixes, deka-(formerly deca-), hecto-, kilo-, and myria-(seldom used); successive parts by deci-, centi-, and milli-. The prefixes mega-and micro-are used to denote a multiple by one million, and the millionth part, respectively; giga-and nano-denote multiples of one billion (1,000,000,000) and one billionth, respectively. The prefix for one trillion (1012) is tera, and for one trillionth (10-12) is pico; for one quintillion (1015) peta, and for (10-15) (one quintillionth) femto; for (10-18) atto. See the words formed with these prefixes in the Vocabulary. For metric tables, see p. 1682.
- n. a decimal system of weights and measures based on the meter and the kilogram and the second
“Adopting the metric system for computation of distances, weights, and quantities would simplify affairs for us just about as much as the invention of the Arabic system of numeration facilitated the business of making computations for the Assyrians and Babylonians.”
“At the opening of the present session of Congress, Representative Charles H. Dillon, of South Dakota, introduced a bill making the metric system permissive in this country until July, 1920, after which time it is to be compulsory and exclusive.”
“Centi- became ambiguous when the metric system came along: did it mean one hundred or one-hundredth?”
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