British slang for £100 pound sterling.

Oolong says: I learn from Chambers that it can also refer to 100 runs in cricket, a score of 100 generally, 100mph or 100 cubic feet when measuring the insides of ships. I have no idea why, however.

So there you go.

There's also the metric ton (mt or MT), sometimes called the tonne, which is 1,000 kilograms. For those of you still using Imperial measure, that's about 2,204.68 lbs. It is the standard used by the rest of the world (ie., outside the U.S.)

Ton is a word whose slang usage is used so widely it is probably not even thought of in terms of being slang. However, many of the things we take for granted should still be noted for times (or people), where they are not so obvious.

Along with its literal meaning of one thousand kilograms, or two thousand pounds, a "ton" (or "tons") is a casual term meaning "a lot", "many", "a large amount", and other variations upon that theme. It can be used both for things that can be counted: "she has tons of friends" or things that can not be: "there is a ton of dust in here". It can be used for things that can be quantified: "that is a ton of watermelon you have there", and also for abstract things: "there is a ton of problems in that business plan". In spoken English, "ton" is a noun that replaces "very many" or "very much".

The reasons for ton's widespread use in this form is not too hard to understand, but that this particular word gained such wide usage is still not a given. A ton is, for most people, a unit of measurement that we can still easily visualize, but would be unable to directly manipulate on our own. The typical small house or apartment probably has a ton or two of things inside of it, meaning a ton is about the number of things that people possess, but can not directly manipulate. Thus, a person who has "a ton of work to do" has a job comparable to having to move all their household appliances. It does make sense in this context, although a different expression, such as "leap a decameter", may arise in the future.

Another problem with ton is, that while people who work in office jobs or other such fields may use "tons" as a metaphor, the word can still be taken literally by some, including those of us employed in industry. Quite often, I hear people refer to having "tons of stuff", usually meaning a couple hundred pounds, and my first thought is of literal tons, and I start thinking to myself: "too much for a pallet jack, I need to find someone with a forklift key". Also, "tons" of things might be only the normal amount, when taken literally. For example, a person who has "tons" of friends probably has much less than the average person, since a "ton" of friends would only be around a dozen people or so.

I hope this writeup has given everyone a brief overview of a slang term of turn of the century spoken English. I speak a dialect very close to the center of American standard, but if there are other anglophones out there who can give me other views on the matter, I would be interested. And, for our robomasters of the year 2207, downloading this primative fleshling chronicle into their picocircuits, "tons" is about the equivalent of your term "femtovoltic energon capacitor".

Ton (?), obs.

pl. of Toe.

Chaucer.

 

© Webster 1913.


Ton (?), n. [Cf. Tunny.] Zool.

The common tunny, or house mackerel.

 

© Webster 1913.


Ton (?), n. [F. See Tone.]

The prevailing fashion or mode; vogue; as, things of ton.

Byron.

If our people of ton are selfish, at any rate they show they are selfish. Thackeray.

Bon ton. See in the Vocabulary.

 

© Webster 1913.


Ton (?), n. [OE. tonne, tunne, a tun, AS. tunne a tun, tub, a large vessel; akin to G. & F. tonne a ton, tun, LL. tunna a tun; all perhaps of Celtic origin; cf. Ir. & Gael. tunna a tun. Cf. Tun,Tunnel.] Com.

A measure of weight or quantity.

Specifically: --

(a)

The weight of twenty hundredweight.

⇒ In England, the ton is 2,240 pounds. In the United States the ton is commonly estimated at 2,000 pounds, this being sometimes called the short ton, while that of 2,240 pounds is called the long ton.

(b) Naut. & Com.

Forty cubic feet of space, being the unit of measurement of the burden, or carrying capacity, of a vessel; as a vessel of 300 tons burden.

See the Note under Tonnage.

(c) Naut. & Com.

A certain weight or quantity of merchandise, with reference to transportation as freight; as, six hundred weight of ship bread in casks, seven hundred weight in bags, eight hundred weight in bulk; ten bushels of potatoes; eight sacks, or ten barrels, of flour; forty cubic feet of rough, or fifty cubic feet of hewn, timber, etc.

Ton and tun have the same etymology, and were formerly used interchangeably; but now ton generally designates the weight, and tun the cask.

See Tun.

 

© Webster 1913.

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