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The Pound Sign

Date: 04/06/2001 at 23:46:03
From: Mary Yarnold
Subject: the correct symbol for "pound" weight

Dear Dr. Math:

I hope you can answer this question for me. My friend says that you 
can use this sign "#" to mean pound, but I disagree. Her reasoning is 
that it is called the pound button by anyone using a touch-tone phone. 
I have always believed that the symbol lb. is correct for this weight 
abbreviation. What do you think?

Mary Yarnold

Date: 04/07/2001 at 00:52:17
From: Doctor Douglas
Subject: Re: the correct symbol for "pound" weight

Hi Mary,

The American Heritage dictionary says that you can use it to mean 

Of course, in American it is usually used to designate "number," as in

     #5   "number five"

When referring to weight, it is usually written after the number:

     4#   "four pounds"

See also this Maricopa College computer science page, which gives 
other names ("octothorpe," "hash") for this symbol:   

I hope this helps.

- Doctor Douglas, The Math Forum   
Associated Topics:
Elementary Definitions
Elementary Terms & Units of Measurement
Middle School Definitions
Middle School Terms/Units of Measurement

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