Dram (unit)

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For the related unit of currency, see Greek drachma.

The dram (alternative British spelling drachm; apothecary symbol ʒ; abbreviated dr)[1][2]:C-6–C-7[3] was originally both a coin and a weight in ancient Greece.[4] It refers to a unit of mass in the avoirdupois system, and both a unit of mass and a unit of volume in the apothecaries' system.[2] The unit of volume is more correctly called a fluid dram, fluid drachm, fluidram or fluidrachm (abbreviated fl dr, ƒ 3, or ).[1][2]:C-17[3][5][6][7]

Ancient unit of mass[edit]

The Ottoman dirhem was based on the Sassanian drachm, which was itself based on the Roman dram/drachm.[citation needed] Modern Armenian drams, the currency of the Republic of Armenia, share this origin.[citation needed]

Modern unit of mass[edit]

In the avoirdupois system, the dram is the mass of 1256 pound or 116 ounce.[2]:C-6 The dram weighs 87532 grains,[2]:C-6 or exactly 1.7718451953125 grams.[2]:C-14

In the apothecaries' system, which was widely used in the United States until the middle of the 20th century,[11] the dram is the mass of 196 pounds apothecaries (lb ap), or 18 ounces apothecaries (oz ap or ℥)[2]:C-7 (the pound apothecaries and ounce apothecaries are equal to the troy pound (lb t), and troy ounce (oz t), respectively).[2]:C-6–C-7 The dram apothecaries is equal to scruples (s ap or ℈) or 60 grains (gr),[2]:C-7 or exactly 3.8879346 grams.[2]:C-14

"Dram" is also used as a measure of the powder charge in a shotgun shell, representing the equivalent of black powder in drams avoirdupois.[12]

Unit of volume[edit]

A 'wee dram' being added to flavour the haggis at a Burns Supper

The fluid dram is defined as 18 of a fluid ounce,[2]:C-5,C-7 and is exactly equal to:

A teaspoonful has been considered equal to one fluid dram for medical prescriptions.[14] However, by 1876 the teaspoon had grown considerably larger than it was previously, measuring 80–85 minims.[15] As there are 60 minims in a fluid dram,[2]:C-5,C-7 using this equivalent for the dosage of medicine was no longer suitable.[15] Today's teaspoon is equivalent to approximately 1 13 US fluid drams,[2]:C-18 or 80 US minims.[2]:C-5

Dram is also used informally to mean a small amount of spirituous liquor, especially Scotch whisky.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

The word appears in the Scottish phrase 'A few drams under par' which means somebody who is shy when sober and sociable when drunk.

In Monty Python's song entitled The Bruces Philosophers Song there is the following line, "Hobbes was fond of his dram,"

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Simpson, John A.; Weiner, Edmund S.C., eds. (1989, online version 2012). "drachm, n.". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-861186-8. OCLC 50959346. Retrieved 2 July 2012. "Spelt drachm or dram."  Check date values in: |date= (help) Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1897.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p National Institute of Standards and Technology (October 2011). Butcher, Tina; Cook, Steve; Crown, Linda et al. eds. "Appendix C – General Tables of Units of Measurement" (PDF). Specifications, Tolerances, and Other Technical Requirements for Weighing and Measuring Devices. NIST Handbook. 44 (2012 ed.). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Technology Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology. ISSN 0271-4027. OCLC 58927093. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b Boyer, Mary Jo (2009). "UNIT 2 Measurement Systems: The Apothecary System". Math for Nurses: A Pocket Guide to Dosage Calculation and Drug Preparation (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 108–9. ISBN 978-0-7817-6335-6. OCLC 181600928. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Simpson, John A.; Weiner, Edmund S.C., eds. (1989, online version 2012). "dram, n.". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-861186-8. OCLC 50959346. Retrieved 2 July 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help) Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1897.
  5. ^ Royal College of Physicians of Dublin (1850). "Weights and Measures". The Pharmacopœia of the King and Queen's College of Physicians in Ireland. Dublin: Hodges and Smith. p. xlvi. OCLC 599509441. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "fluidram". Merriam-Webster online. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster. OCLC 44475779. Retrieved 2 July 2012. "Definition of FLUIDRAM: variant of fluid dram" 
  7. ^ Powell, Richard; Royal College of Physicians of London (1809). "Weights, Measures, &c. [measures of liquids sect.]". The Pharmacopœia of the Royal College of Physicians of London, M. DCCC. IX (corr. and enl. 2nd ed.). London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme. p. 3. OCLC 622876101. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Donald J. Mastronarde (19 March 1993). Introduction to Attic Greek. University of California Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-520-07844-4. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  9. ^ Smith, William (1886). DICTIONARY OF GREEK AND ROMAN ANTIQUITIES. (3rd American ed.). New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 1062. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  10. ^ Ramsay, William Wardlaw (1883). An elementary manual of Roman antiquities (7th ed.). London: Charles Griffin and Company. p. 206. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Judson, Lewis V. (March 1976) [October 1963]. "Appendix 8". Weights and Measures Standards of the United States: A brief history (PDF). NBS Special Publication 447. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Bureau of Standards. p. 35. OCLC 610190761. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  12. ^ Buzzacott, Francis H.; Boyles, Denis (3 August 2008). The Complete Sportsman's Encyclopedia. Globe Pequot. p. 271. ISBN 978-1-59921-330-9. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  13. ^ United Kingdom; Department of Trade and Industry (1995). The Units of Measurement Regulations 1995. London: HMSO. Schedule: Relevant Imperial Units, Corresponding Metric Units and Metric Equivalents. ISBN 978-0-11-053334-6. OCLC 33237616. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  14. ^ Simpson, John A.; Weiner, Edmund S.C., eds. (1989, online version 2012). "tea-spoon, n.". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-861186-8. OCLC 50959346. Retrieved 2 July 2012. "teaspoonful n. as much as a tea-spoon will hold; in medical prescriptions taken as equal to 1 fluid-drachm."  Check date values in: |date= (help) Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1911.
  15. ^ a b Bidwell, W.H., ed. (July–December 1876). "Science and Art". "Domestic Measurement of Medicine". The Eclectic magazine of foreign literature, science, and art (New York: Leavitt, Trow, & Co.) 87: 766–7. OCLC 700637572. 

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