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This article is about the unit of mass. For other uses of "g" "gram" and "gramme", see Gram (disambiguation).
Gram (pen cap on scale).jpg
The mass of this pen cap is about 1 gram
Unit information
Unit system SI derived unit and CGS base unit
Unit of Mass
Symbol g 
Unit conversions
1 g in ... ... is equal to ...
   SI base units    10−3 kilograms
   CGS units    1 gram
   Imperial units
U.S. customary
   0.0353 ounces

The gram (alternative British English spelling: gramme;[1] SI unit symbol: g) (Greek/Latin root grámma) is a metric system unit of mass.

Originally defined as "the absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal to the cube of the hundredth part of a metre, and at the temperature of melting ice"[2] (later at 4 °C, the temperature of maximum density of water). However, in a reversal of reference and defined units, a gram is now defined as one one-thousandth of the SI base unit, the kilogram, or 1×10−3 kg, which itself is now defined, not in terms of grams, but as being equal to the mass of a physical prototype of a specific alloy kept locked up and preserved by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. This is in the tradition by which many customary local reference standard 'stones', lengths (objects) and weights were required to periodically undergo comparison with the official nations standard referents, usually with a particular periodicity defined by the countries statuate laws.

Official SI symbol[edit]

The only unit symbol for gram that is recognised by the International System of Units (SI) is "g" following the numeric value with a space, as in "640 g" to stand for "640 grams" in the English language. The SI does not support the use of abbreviations such as "gr" (which is the symbol for grains),[3]:C-19 "gm" (the SI symbol for gram metre) or "Gm" (the SI symbol for gigametre).


The word gramme was adopted by the French National Convention in its 1795 decree revising the metric system as replacing the gravet introduced in 1793. Its definition remained that of the weight (poids) of a cubic centimetre of water.[4][5] French gramme was taken from the Late Latin term gramma. This word, ultimately from Greek γράμμα "letter" had adopted a specialised meaning in Late Antiquity of "one twenty-fourth part of an ounce" (two oboli),[6] corresponding to about 1.14 (modern) grams. This use of the term is found in the carmen de ponderibus et mensuris ("poem about weights and measures") composed around 400 AD.[a] There is also evidence that the Greek γράμμα was used in the same sense at around the same time, in the 4th century, and survived in this sense into Medieval Greek,[8] while the Latin term did not remain current in Medieval Latin and was recovered in Renaissance scholarship.[b]

The gram was the fundamental unit of mass in the 19th-century centimetre–gram–second system of units (CGS). The CGS system co-existed with the MKS system of units, first proposed in 1901, during much of the 20th century, but the gram has been displaced by the kilogram as the fundamental unit for mass when the MKS system was chosen for the SI base units in 1960.


The gram is today the most widely used unit of measurement for non-liquid ingredients in cooking and grocery shopping worldwide.

Most standards and legal requirements for nutrition labels on food products require relative contents to be stated per 100 g (3.5274 ounces) of the product, such that the resulting figure can also be read as a percentage by weight.

Conversion factors[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The date and authorship of this Late Latin didactic poem are both uncertain; it was attributed to Priscian but is now attributed to Rem(m)ius Favinus/Flav(in)us.[7] The poem's title is reflected in the French phrase poids et mesures ("weights and mesures") in the title of the 1795 National Convention decree, Décret relatif aux poids et aux mesures that introduced the gram, and indirectly in the name of the General Conference on Weights and Measures responsible for the modern definition of the metric units.
  2. ^ In the Renaissance, the carmen de ponderibus et mensuris was received as a work of the 1st-century grammarian Remmius Palaemon edited in 1528 by Johann Setzer of Hagenau, together with works by Celsius, Priscian and Johannes Caesarius; Aurelij Cornelij Celsi, De re medica, libri octo eruditissimi. Q. Sereni Samonici Praecepta medica, uersibus hexametris. Q. Rhemnij Fannij Palaemonis, De ponderibus [et] mensuris, liber rarus [et] utilissimus


  1. ^ "Weights and Measures Act 1985 (c. 72)". The UK Statute Law Database. Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 2011-01-26. §92. 
  2. ^ Décret relatif aux poids et aux mesures, 1795
  3. ^ 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 OCLC 58927093. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Décret relatif aux poids et aux mesures du 18 germinal an 3 (7 avril 1795)" [Decree of 18 Germinal, year III (April 7, 1795) regarding weights and measures]. Grandes lois de la République (in French). Digithèque de matériaux juridiques et politiques, Université de Perpignan. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  5. ^ Convention nationale, décret du 1er août 1793, ed. Duvergier, Collection complète des lois, décrets, ordonnances, règlemens avis du Conseil d'état, publiée sur les éditions officielles du Louvre, vol. 6 (2nd ed. 1834), p. 70. The metre (mètre) on which this definition depends was itself defined as the ten-millionth part of a quarter of Earth's meridian, given in traditional units as 3 pieds, 11.44 lignes (a ligne being the 12th part of an pouce (inch), or the 144th part of a pied.
  6. ^ Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary s.v. "gramma", 1879
  7. ^ Knorr, Wilbur R. (1996). "Carmen de ponderibus et mensuris". In Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 292. ISBN 019866172X. 
  8. ^ Henry George Liddell. Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon (revised and augmented edition, Oxford, 1940) s.v. γράμμα, citing the 10th-century work Geoponica and a 4th-century papyrus edited in L. Mitteis, Griechische Urkunden der Papyrussammlung zu Leipzig, vol. i (1906), 62 ii 27.
  9. ^ "Circulating Coin Designs". Japan Mint. Archived from the original on 18 September 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 

External links[edit]