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metric system

noun
1.
a decimal system of weights and measures, adopted first in France but now widespread, universally used in science, mandatory for use for all purposes in a large number of countries, and favored for use in most (as in the U.S.). The basic units are the meter (39.37 inches) for length and the gram (15.432 grains) for mass or weight. Derived units are the liter (0.908 U.S. dry quart, or 1.0567 U.S. liquid quart) for capacity, being the volume of 1000 grams of water under specified conditions; the are (119.6 square yards) for area, being the area of a square 10 meters on a side; and the stere (35.315 cubic feet) for volume, being the volume of a cube 1 meter on a side, the term “stere,” however, usually being used only in measuring firewood. Names for units larger and smaller than these are formed from the above names by the use of the following prefixes: kilo-, 1000; hecto-, 100; deka-, 10; deci-, 0.1; centi-, 0.01; milli-, 0.001. To these are often added: tera-, one trillion; giga-, one billion; mega-, one million. With the addition of basic physical units it is now officially known by the French name Le Système International d'Unités (abbreviation SI, ) or in English as the International System of Units.
Origin of metric system
1860-1865
1860-65
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for metric system
Historical Examples
  • The metric system was originated by the French Academy of Sciences during the latter part of the 18th century.

    Physics Willis Eugene Tower
  • Other tables in the metric system are built upon the same plan.

    Physics Willis Eugene Tower
  • Although the railways were different, the metric system prevailed as in the greater part of the globe.

    An Autobiography Igor Stravinsky
  • One of the units plainly belongs to the metric system, the other to the English.

    Physics Willis Eugene Tower
  • It will readily be seen that with the metric system it is possible to measure accurately the thousandth part of an inch.

  • They are also furnished with metric system measurements, graduated and marked for centimeters and millimeters.

    Paper-Cutting Machines Niel, Jr., Gray
  • This fact involved the recasting of drawings even when the metric system measurements were retained.

  • From St. Vincent's tower during the Convention, 1792-5, were taken those measurements, the outcome of which was the metric system.

    In the Heart of Vosges Matilda Betham-Edwards
  • The metric system is a decimal system that is, one unit is related to another unit in the ratio of ten or of some power of ten.

    Physics Willis Eugene Tower
  • She's rather tall—not too tall, mind you—five feet five, I'd say—whatever that is in the metric system.

    The Man From Brodney's George Barr McCutcheon
British Dictionary definitions for metric system

metric system

noun
1.
any decimal system of units based on the metre. For scientific purposes the Système International d'Unités (SI units) is used
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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metric system in Medicine

metric system n.
A decimal system of units based on the meter as a unit length, the kilogram as a unit mass, and the second as a unit time.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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metric system in Science
metric system  
A decimal system of weights and measures based on the meter as a unit of length, the kilogram as a unit of mass, and the liter as a unit of volume. Compare US Customary System. See Table at measurement.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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metric system in Culture

metric system definition


A system of measurement in which the basic units are the meter, the second, and the kilogram. In this system, the ratios between units of measurement are multiples of ten. For example, a kilogram is a thousand grams, and a centimeter is one-hundredth of a meter. Virtually all countries of the world, except the United States, use the metric system. Among scientists, the metric system is called SI — an abbreviation for Système internationale, which is French for “International System.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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