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baht
a weight unit in Thailand, now equal to exactly 15 grams, or 0.5291 unce. The baht, originally the weight of a silver coin of the same name, is used to measure the weight of precious metals.
bale
a commercial unit of weight for shipments of cotton. In the United States, one bale of cotton, formerly equal to 500 pounds (226.80 kg), is now equal to 480 pounds (217.72 kg). The British used the Egyptian bale, formerly equal to 750 pounds (340.19 kg) but now equal to 720 pounds (326.59 kg).
bar
a metric unit of atmospheric pressure, equal to one million dynes per square centimeter, 100 kilopascals, 750.062 torr, 1.019 72 kilograms of force per square centimeter (kgf/cm2), or about 14.503 78 pounds per square inch (lbf/in2 ). One bar is just a bit less than the average pressure of the Earth's atmosphere, which is 1.013 25 bar.
barrel
A commercial unit of volume used to measure liquids such as beer and wine. The official U. S. definition of the barrel is 31.5 gallons, which is about 4.211 cubic feet or 119.24 liters.  There are other official barrels, defined in certain U.S. states; most of them fall in the general range of 30-40 gallons. A barrel of beer in the U.S., for example, is usually 31 U.S. gallons (117.35 liters). The standard symbol bbl.

A commercial unit of volume used to measure petroleum. By international agreement a barrel of petroleum equals 42 U. S. gallons, which is about 158.987 liters. The symbol bo (barrel of oil) is used for this unit in the petroleum industry.

A commercial unit of volume used to measure dry commodities such as apples. The U. S. dry barrel, established by Congress in 1912, is 105 dry quarts, which is about 4.083 cubic feet or 115.63 liters.
barrel bulk
a commercial unit of volume equal to exactly 5 cubic feet or 0.141 584 cubic meters. There are exactly 8 barrels bulk in a freight ton and 20 in a register ton.
baud (Bd)
a unit used for measuring the rate of data transmission over telegraph or telephone lines. The baud rate is the number of times per second the signal carrying the communication varies in strength or frequency. If the signal has only two states (on or off) then the baud rate is the same as the transmission rate in bits per second.  The baud is named for the French telegraph engineer J. M. E. Baudot (1845-1903), the inventor of the first teleprinter.
BB
a common shot pellet size in the U.S.; the diameter of BB shot is used informally sometimes as a distance unit. BB shot has a diameter of 0.180 inch (4.572 mm).
BC, BCE
abbreviations for "before Christ" and "before common era".
beat
a unit of time equal to 0.001 day or 86.4 seconds. "Metric time," meaning decimalized time, is an idea dating back at least to the French Revolution of the 1790's. In most metric time proposals, the day is divided into 10 metric hours, each metric hour into 100 metric minutes (or beats), and each metric minute into 100 metric seconds (sometimes called blinks).
bell
an old unit of time. On ships at sea, a practical measure of time is the watch, a period of 4 hours. The watch is divided into 8 bells, so one bell equals 1/2 hour or 30 minutes.
bhp
abbreviation for brake horsepower. The brake horsepower of an engine is the effective power output, sometimes measured as the resistance the engine provides to a brake attached to the output shaft.
bi-
a common English prefix meaning 2. bi- means "every two." Thus a biweekly payroll is paid once every two weeks, a bimonthly magazine is published once every two months, and the U.S. House of Representatives is elected biennially (every two years).
bicron ()
an obsolete metric unit of distance, defined as 10-12 meter or 10-6 micron. This distance is now called a picometer (pm). The name is a reference to the double prefix in "micromicron."
biennium
a unit of time equal to two years. Many U.S. states, elect legislators every two years and adopt budgets for this two-year period, called a biennium.
bigha
a traditional unit of land area in South Asia. The bigha varies in size from region to another; in India it is generally less than an acre (0.4 hectare). In Nepal the bigha equals about 0.677 hectare (1.67 acres). The bigha was divided into 20 katthas, and each kattha contained 20 dhurs.
billennia
a new word meaning "billions of years," billennia is appearing informally in science writing in phrases such as "countless billennia" or "the billennia of evolutionary time."
bit
the basic unit of the amount of data. Each bit records one of the two possible answers to a single question: "0" or "1," "yes" or "no," "on" or "off."  The word "bit" was coined by the American statistician and computer scientist John Tukey in 1946 as an acronym for binary digit.
bit per second (b/s or bps)
a common unit of data transmission rate in computer science. The symbol bps is often pronounced "bips."
blink
a unit of time equal to 10-5 day or exactly 0.864 second. This unit is also called the metric second. An actual eye blink takes less than half as much time as this unit.
block
an informal unit of distance popular in the U.S. A block is the average distance between street intersections in the rectangular street grids common in most American cities.
boiler horsepower
a traditional unit measuring the power delivered by a boiler. The boiler horsepower is defined to be the power required to convert 30 pounds (13.61 kilograms) per hour of water at 100 F (37.78 C) to saturated steam at a pressure of 70 pounds per square inch gauge (482.6 kilopascals gauge).
bottle
a unit of volume. Like actual bottles, this unit varies according to the nature of the contents. For a long time in the U.S., a bottle of milk was 1 quart (1/4 gallon or 946.36 milliliters), a bottle of whiskey was 1 fifth (1/5 gallon or 757.1 milliliters), and a bottle of champagne was 2/3 quart (1/6 gallon or 630.91 milliliters).
box
a unit of volume, usually informal but standardized in certain industries. In the U.S., a box of citrus fruit contains 1.6 bushels (56.383 liters).
bpd
abbreviation for barrels per day, a unit of production used in the petroleum industry.
bpm
abbreviation for beats per minute, the common unit of tempo in music. The same symbol is used in medicine for heart rates and also for respiration rates (breaths per minute). Technically, 1 bpm is equal to 1/60 hertz.
brace
another name for a pair. The word is used mostly by hunters, who may speak of a brace of partridges or a brace of shotguns. Derived from the Latin word bracchia for both arms, it literally means "one for each arm."
brake horsepower (bhp)
the effective power output of an engine, sometimes measured as the resistance the engine provides to a brake attached to the output shaft.
breadth
another name for a span(9 inches or 22.86 centimeters). This unit is traditionally used to measure the dimensions of flags.
breve
the standard unit of relative time in music, equal to the time length of 2 whole notes. Although this is the longest interval in musical notation, the word comes from the Latin brevis, brief. The breve is equal to 2 semibreves, 4 minims, 8 crotchets, or 16 quavers.
bril
a unit used to express the "brilliance" or subjective brightness of a source of light.
Brinell hardness (HB or BHN)
a measure of the hardness of a metal introduced by J. A. Brinell in 1900.
British thermal unit (BTU)
a unit of heat energy defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. In America the British thermal unit is sometimes called the heat unit. Using the current definition of the calorie (the IT calorie), one Btu equals approximately 778.169 foot pounds, 1.055 056 kilo joules or 0.293 071 watt hour.
bundle
a unit of quantity for paper, equal to 2 reams or 40 quires. This would be 960 sheets using the old definition of 24 sheets per quire, or 1000 sheets using the newer quire of 25 sheets.
a traditional unit of length for yarn, equal to 20 hanks. For cotton yarn, a bundle contains 16,800 yards (about 15.362 kilometers). For wool, a bundle contains 11,200 yards (10.241 kilometers).

in the construction trades, a bundle is a package of shingles. Asphalt shingles are often sold in bundles of 27, with 3 bundles per square, but the heavier cedar shingles generally require 5 bundles per square.
bushel (bu)
A traditional unit of volume used for measuring dry commodities such as grains and fruits. One U.S. or Winchester bushel equals 4 pecks or 32 (dry) quarts; this is a volume of 2150.42 cubic inches or about 1.2445 cubic feet, and represents the volume of a cylindrical container 18.5 inches (47.0 cm) in diameter and 8 inches (20.3 cm) deep. The U. S. bushel holds about 35.239 07 liters.

A unit of volume in the British imperial system equal to 8 imperial gallons, or 2219.36 cubic inches (1.2844 cubic feet). The imperial bushel holds about 36.369 liters.

A commercial unit of weight for grains and other bulk commodities. For example, in the United States a bushel of wheat equals 60 pounds (27.216 kg), a bushel of barley 48 pounds (21.772 kg), a bushel of oats 32 pounds (14.515 kg), and a bushel of rye 56 pounds (25.401 kg).
butcher
a unit of volume for beer in South Australia. A butcher of beer is a glass holding 200 milliliters. This is called a glass or a seven in other parts of Australia.
Bya or bya
a common abbreviation for "billion years ago."
byte (B)
a unit of information or data. The byte is a unit of addressable memory, and its size can vary depending on the machine or the computing language. In most contexts, the byte is equal to 8 bits (or 1 octet). This means that a byte has 28 = 256 possible states. The unit was named by IBM engineer Werner Buchholz in 1956.

 

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