What is an Ounce? - Definition & Conversion

Instructor: Kadoria Burgess

I have a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and Spanish. I have taught for 5 years in bilingual classrooms of various elementary grade levels.

What do a slice of bread, a bag of chips, a pencil, and juice have in common? They can all measured in ounces, and in this lesson, you will learn what an ounce is and how to compare it to other units of measure.

What is an Ounce?

You are planning to make several dozen almond cookies from scratch for a bake sale. The recipe calls for two pounds of almond slivers, but there is a problem: the grocery store only sells almond slivers in ounces. So, what do you do? First, you need to know what an ounce is. An ounce is the smallest measurement of weight. On packages, it is commonly referred to by the abbreviation 'oz' which comes from the Italian and Spanish word onza. An ounce is about the weight of a slice of bread.

A slice of bread weighs about one ounce.
slice of bread

Ounces to Pounds to Tons

Since your recipe for almond cookies calls for two pounds of almond slivers and does not specify ounces, you must do a conversion, or change from one unit of measure to another. Since we are going from a bigger unit to a smaller unit of measure, we will need to multiply. A pound, also written as 'lb', is 16 ounces, so multiply the number of pounds needed (2) x the number of ounces in a pound (16). You will need 32 ounces to equal two pounds.

Some objects are so massive that ounces or pounds just won't do. Think of things like an elephant, a car, or a vat of almond cookies made in a factory. In cases like these, you will have to measure the weight of the objects in tons. A ton , also written as 'T', is equal to 2,000 pounds. To go from ounces to tons, you would have to do two conversions, starting out converting ounces to pounds and then changing the pounds to tons by multiplying that value by 2,000.

If you were trying to go from a smaller unit like ounces to a larger unit like pounds, you would have to divide in order to convert the measures. (32 ounces/16 ounces in a pound = 2 pounds)

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