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

Keep scrolling for more

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 McCormick was a member of the Jolly Fat Men’s Club, a fraternal group that celebrated avoirdupois. John Kelly, Washington Post, "An old metal token puts Answer Man on the trail of a D.C. saloon tycoon," 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

Keep scrolling for more

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 9 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on avoirdupois

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for avoirdupois

Spanish Central: Translation of avoirdupois

Nglish: Translation of avoirdupois for Spanish Speakers

Comments on avoirdupois

What made you want to look up avoirdupois? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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