One thing I've always found unusual but haven't been able to explain is why we use the abbreviation lb to mean "pound". Apparently it traces back to an ancient Roman unit of measurement, libra pondo, which meant "a pound by weight" (their pound was 12 ounces; the word didn't mean 16 ounces until the 1300s). Pondo is also where we get our modern word pound, through Proto-Germanic punda and Old English pund, and the pound currency name derives from association with silver being measured in 12-ounce units. The pound symbol £ is a stylized l from libra pondo and the symbol # is sometimes referred to as a pound sign because it actually started as a fancy cursive combination of the letters l and b and to be used as shorthand for the word pound. I love how all these loose ends come together, just because of one Latin phrase.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.