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[tuhn] /tʌn/
a unit of weight, equivalent to 2000 pounds (0.907 metric ton) avoirdupois (short ton) in the U.S. and 2240 pounds (1.016 metric tons) avoirdupois (long ton) in Great Britain.
Also called freight ton. a unit of volume for freight that weighs one ton, varying with the type of freight measured, as 40 cubic feet of oak timber or 20 bushels of wheat.
a unit of volume used in transportation by sea, commonly equal to 40 cubic feet (1.13 cu. m) (shipping ton or measurement ton)
a unit of internal capacity of ships, equal to 100 cubic feet (2.83 cu. m) (register ton)
Often, tons. Informal. a great quantity; a lot:
a ton of jokes; tons of wedding presents.
British Informal. a speed of 100 miles per hour.
Origin of ton1
1350-1400; Middle English; variant of tun


[French tawn] /French tɔ̃/
noun, plural tons
[French tawn] /French tɔ̃/ (Show IPA)
high fashion; stylishness.
the current fashion, style, or vogue.
1755-65; < French < Latin tonus tone
Related forms
tonish, tonnish
[ton-ish] /ˈtɒn ɪʃ/ (Show IPA),
tonishly, tonnishly, adverb
tonishness, tonnishness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tons
  • Eleven thousand three hundred tons of superstructure steel are waiting.
  • Countless tons of supplies had been flown in or were on their way.
  • We've been fighting for three years now, and-get this-we've racked up so many points that we've got tons of bonus lives.
  • But there can be tons of ugly emotions flying about without having any couples in the department.
  • Again, if you have tons of comp experience, your best bet is to apply for instructor and adjunct jobs.
  • tons of rock has to be removed and grease-processed.
  • Rapid burial under tons of water pressure may be the answer for the remarkable condition of these fossils.
  • White rhinos were the ultimate test-three tons of anger in a box.
  • Their living quarters were buried now, and rescuers were digging through tons of mud to find the family.
  • Felt turns out to be almost magical in that it can be pushed under tons of pressure and it won't be damaged.
British Dictionary definitions for tons


plural noun
a large amount or number:: tons of money, I have tons of shoes
(intensifier): I looked and felt tons better


(Brit) Also called long ton. a unit of weight equal to 2240 pounds or 1016.046909 kilograms
(US) Also called short ton, net ton. a unit of weight equal to 2000 pounds or 907.184 kilograms
Also called metric ton, tonne. a unit of weight equal to 1000 kilograms
Also called freight ton. a unit of volume or weight used for charging or measuring freight in shipping. It depends on the type of material being shipped but is often taken as 40 cubic feet, 1 cubic metre, or 1000 kilograms: freight is charged at £40 per ton of 1 cubic metre
Also called measurement ton, shipping ton. a unit of volume used in shipping freight, equal to 40 cubic feet, irrespective of the commodity shipped
Also called displacement ton. a unit used for measuring the displacement of a ship, equal to 35 cubic feet of sea water or 2240 pounds
Also called register ton. a unit of internal capacity of ships equal to 100 cubic feet
See also tons
Word Origin
C14: variant of tun


style, fashion, or distinction
Word Origin
C18: from French, from Latin tonustone


(slang, mainly Brit) a score or achievement of a hundred, esp a hundred miles per hour, as on a motorcycle
Word Origin
C20: special use of ton1 applied to quantities of one hundred
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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Word Origin and History for tons



late 14c., tonne, unit for measuring the carrying capacity of a ship, originally "space occupied by a tun or cask of wine," thus identical to tun (q.v.). The two words were not differentiated until 1680s. The measure of weight is first recorded late 15c.; the spelling ton is from 1530s, and became firmly established 18c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tons in Science
  1. A unit of weight in the US Customary System equal to 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms). Also called short ton. See Table at measurement.

  2. A unit of weight in the US Customary System equal to 2,240 pounds (1,008 kilograms). Also called long ton. See Table at measurement.

  3. See metric ton.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for tons

tommy gun

noun phrase

A handheld automatic repeating firearm; a submachine gun; burp gun, chopper

[1929+; fr the name of the .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun, the earliest well-known weapon of this sort, and a favorite arm of the gangster era]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Related Abbreviations for tons


threshold odor number
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with tons
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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