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Why is a nail sized by the word 'penny' and why is it labeled 'd?'

Question #9517. Asked by Steve. (Jan 12 01 2:24 AM)

l3i7l

Believe it or not, penny, in this case, is an indication of weight, not price, being a broad corruption of pound. 'd' is the British shorthand for pound. The unit of measurement for nails has always been per thousand. Thus a 3 inch 10-penny nail weighs 10 lbs. per thousand; a 4-penny nail weighs 4 lbs. per thousand, and so on. I'll bet a lot of hardware clerks don't know that, try asking the next time.

 Jan 12 01, 4:25 AM
sue943

I don't dispute the other answer, I know nothing of the weight of a nail, however as a Brit I would dispute 'd' being an abbreviation for pound, it was what we used to use for old pennies, ie before decimalisation in 1971. Three pence used to be written 3d, four pence was 4d. In pre-decimal money we had LSD, pounds, shillings and pence.

 Jan 12 01, 11:55 PM
Moleman

Nails were sold by the pennyweight - which is a unit of weight equivalent to the weight of one British penny. The abbreviation of a pennyweight is dwt or sometimes d.

 Feb 01 01, 10:02 AM
Stalydon

Just to clarify matters, d is _not_ the British shorthand for pounds. It's short for denarius (pl. denarii).
The old pre-decimal system, as mentioned elsewhere on this page, was based on l.s.d. -- l for librae (pounds), s for solidi (shillings) and d for denarii (pence).
As for nails, I'm afraid I have no idea.

 Jun 06 01, 12:52 PM

 What is the longest word used by Shakespeare, where does it appear, and why is it labeled as a "pedantic nonsense word"?

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