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1797, from French litre (1793), from litron, obsolete French measure of capacity for grain, from Medieval Latin litra, from Greek litra "pound," apparently from the same Sicilian Italic source as Latin libra.
liter li·ter (lē'tər)
Abbr. L, l
A unit of volume equal to 1000 cubic centimeters or or 1 cubic decimeter (1.0567 quarts).
unit of volume in the metric system, equal to one cubic decimetre (0.001 cubic metre). From 1901 to 1964 the litre was defined as the volume of one kilogram of pure water at 4C (39.2F) and standard atmospheric pressure; in 1964 the original, present value was reinstated. One litre is equivalent to approximately 1.0567 U.S. quart.