This is why 'lb' stands for 'pound' – and our minds are blown

Lauren Smith
Photo credit: stockvisual / Getty

From Prima

Most measuring abbreviations are pretty straightforward ('tbsp' for tablespoon, 'cm' for centimetre, you get the gist).

But there's one major exception: 'lb' for pound – what?!

People are always talking about losing some 'lbs' when dieting, but it hardly makes any sense... Or does it?

Actually it does!

As the Huffington Post has so cleverly pointed out, 'lb' is an abbreviation for the Latin word libra, which is the seventh sign of the zodiac and is symbolised by scales (cue lightbulb moment).

The word 'libra' referred to balance or scales in Roman times and was also part of a unit of measurement known as 'libra pondo', which when translated is 'pound weight' or 'a pound by weight'.

The 'pondo' part of the measurement is the origin behind the English word 'pound', while the 'libra' part is the origin behind 'lb' being the abbreviation.

To add even more confusion to the matter, we Brits use the word 'pound' for our currency.

Photo credit: Getty

This is because the original value of what was used for money in Britain was equivalent to a pound of silver.

The symbol for the British pound (£) is also an ornate capital letter 'L' – which is another reference to the world 'libra'. How did we not put this together before?

But we aren't the only people to take words from the Ancient romans. The Italian word 'lira', which was the country's currency from 1861 to 2002, also derives from libra.

As does the hashtag symbol, which is a nod to the way medieval scribes wrote the abbreviation 'lb'"

And there you have it!

You Might Also Like