av·​oir·​du·​pois | \ ˌa-vər-də-ˈpȯiz How to pronounce avoirdupois (audio) , ˈa-vər-də-ˌpȯiz \

Definition of avoirdupois

 (Entry 1 of 2)

2 : weight, heaviness especially : personal weight



Definition of avoirdupois (Entry 2 of 2)

: expressed in avoirdupois weight one ounce avoirdupois

Synonyms for avoirdupois

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did you know?


When "avoirdupois" first appeared in English in the 15th century, it carried a meaning of "goods sold by weight," which is also the meaning of its Middle English predecessor, "avoir de pois." That term derives from an Anglo-French phrase meaning "goods of weight." Today, "avoirdupois" most commonly refers to the system of weight measurement used for general merchandise, in which the pound is equal to 16 ounces, the ounce 16 drams, and the dram 27.344 grains. (Some other weight systems are apothecaries' weight, used to measure pharmaceutical items, and troy weight, used for precious metals.) It was Shakespeare, in his play Henry IV (1597), who first used "avoirdupois" to mean "heaviness."

Examples of avoirdupois in a Sentence

Noun the coach limited his recruiting to linebackers of a certain avoirdupois told his patient that he had to do something about his unhealthy avoirdupois and that exercising would be a good start
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun To make the most of the full fury of its hot-cam performance, the Integra was trimmed of 140 pounds of not-so-necessary avoirdupois. Barry Winfield, Car and Driver, 21 May 2020 McCormick was a member of the Jolly Fat Men’s Club, a fraternal group that celebrated avoirdupois. John Kelly, Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'avoirdupois.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of avoirdupois


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1619, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for avoirdupois


Middle English avoir de pois goods sold by weight, from Anglo-French, literally, goods of weight

Learn More About avoirdupois

Time Traveler for avoirdupois

Time Traveler

The first known use of avoirdupois was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About avoirdupois

Statistics for avoirdupois

Cite this Entry

“Avoirdupois.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avoirdupois. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for avoirdupois


av·​oir·​du·​pois | \ ˌav-ərd-ə-ˈpȯiz, -ˈpwä How to pronounce avoirdupois (audio) \

Medical Definition of avoirdupois

: expressed in avoirdupois weight avoirdupois units 5 ounces avoirdupois 2 avoirdupois ounces

More from Merriam-Webster on avoirdupois

Nglish: Translation of avoirdupois for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!