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A dozen (common abbreviated doz or dz) is a grouping of twelve. The dozen may be one of the earliest primitive groupings, perhaps because there are approximately a dozen cycles of the moon or months in a cycle of the sun or year. Twelve is convenient because it has more divisors than other small numbers: 12 = 2 × 6 = 3 × 4 = 1 × 12. The use of twelve as a base number, known as the duodecimal system (also as dozenal), probably originated in Mesopotamia (see also sexagesimal). This could come from counting on one's fingers by counting each finger bone with one's thumb. Using this method, one hand can count to twelve, and two hands can count to 144. Twelve dozen (122 = 144, the duodecimal 100) are known as a gross; and twelve gross (123 = 1,728, the duodecimal 1,000) are called a great gross, a term most often used when shipping or buying items in bulk. A great hundred, also known as a small gross, is 120 or ten dozen. A baker's dozen, also known as big, or long dozen, is 13.
The English word dozen comes from the old form of the French word douzaine, meaning "a group of twelve" ("Assemblage de choses de même nature au nombre de douze" — (translation: A group of twelve things of the same nature as defined in the eighth edition of the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française). This French word is a derivation from the cardinal number douze ("twelve", from Latin duodĕcim) and the collective suffix -aine (from Latin -ēna), a suffix also used to form other words with similar meanings such as quinzaine (a group of fifteen), vingtaine (a group of twenty), centaine (a group of one hundred), etc. These French words have synonymous cognates in Spanish: docena, quincena, veintena, centena, etc. English dozen, French douzaine, German Dutzend, Dutch dozijn and Spanish docena, are also used as indefinite quantifiers to mean "about twelve" or "many" (as in "a dozen times", "dozens of people").
A confusion may arise with the Anglo-Norman dizeyne (French dixaine or dizaine) a tithing, or group of ten households — dating from the late Anglo-Saxon system of grouping households into tens and hundreds for the purposes of law, order and mutual surety (see Tithing). In some texts this 'dizeyne' may be rendered as 'dozen'.[page needed]
A baker's dozen, devil's dozen, long dozen, or long measure is 13, one more than a standard dozen. The oldest known source for the expression "baker's dozen" dates to the 13th century in one of the earliest English statutes, instituted during the reign of Henry III (1216–72), called the Assize of Bread and Ale. Bakers who were found to have shortchanged customers (some variations say that they would sell hollow bread) could be subject to severe punishment including judicial amputation of a hand. To guard against losing a hand to an axe, a baker would give 13 for the price of 12 in order to be certain of not being known as a cheat. Specifically, the practice of baking 13 items for an intended dozen was insurance against "short measure", on the basis that one of the 13 could be lost, eaten, burnt, or ruined in some way, leaving the baker with the original legal dozen. The practice can be seen in the guild codes of the Worshipful Company of Bakers in London.
According to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, by Capatin Grose, "a Baker's Dozen is Thirteen; that number of rolls being allowed to the purchaser of a dozen".
A decimal dozen is a design of cartons for bottled wine that holds two rows of five bottles, developed by the Helm Wines winery, Canberra, Australia, to replace traditional dozen-bottle cartons. The quoted motivation is that demographics reports show that women buy more than 50 percent of wine in Australia. According to the OH&S regulations, a woman should not lift more than 15 kilograms (33 lbs), which is only the minimum gross weight of a standard 12-bottle carton, which can weigh up to 20 kg for some types of bottles.
In 2005, it was a nominee for the ACT Occupational Health and Safety Award in the category "Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue" for addressing "the manual handling issues by introducing a ten bottle carton in a 2 × 5 configuration".
- Bartleby[dead link]
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- "Occupational Health & Safety Awards 2005 Nominees", ACT, AU[dead link]