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noun | av-er-duh-POYZ
What It Means
Avoirdupois is synonymous with weight and heaviness, especially as related to the body. It also refers to the series of units of weight based on the pound of 16 ounces and the ounce of 16 drams.
// The coach limited his recruiting to linebackers of a certain avoirdupois.
Examples of AVOIRDUPOIS
“… I find it hopeful that we’ve at least begun to dispense with the notion that only thin bodies are healthy and good. And to replace fantastical diet prescriptions with the common sense that healthy bodies eat all kinds of foods, depending on circumstance…. I will say Vogue’s diets have been right at least twice. A little Champagne at lunch is a sound choice, regardless of the rest of the meal, and, as an anonymous writer put it in these pages in 1906, ‘There is healthy fat as there is unhealthy fat, and unless your avoirdupois becomes such as to make you uncomfortable … you should leave it alone.’” — Tamar Adler, Vogue, 24 Feb. 2022
Did You Know?
When avoirdupois first appeared in English in the 15th century, it referred to “goods sold by weight,” which is also the meaning of its Middle English predecessor, avoir de pois. That term comes from an Anglo-French phrase meaning “goods of weight” or “property.” 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 an ultra-specific 27.344 grains. (Some other weight systems are apothecaries’ weight, used to measure pharmaceutical items, and troy weight, used for precious metals.) It was William Shakespeare, in his play Henry IV, Part 2, who first used avoirdupois to mean “heaviness”: “the weight of a hair will turn the scales between their avoirdupois.”