- a mathematical number equal to the square root of -1. Although often called
the imaginary unit, i is quite real in many applications. For
example, in vector geometry it is used to represent a counterclockwise rotation
by 90°. The Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) introduced
the symbol i for the imaginary unit in 1777.
- an abbreviation for International Annealed Copper Standard, a
measure of conductivity used to compare electrical conductors to a
traditional copper-wire standard. Conductivity is expressed as a
percentage of the standard. 100% IACS represents a conductivity of
58 megasiemens per meter (MS/m);
this is equivalent to a resistivity of 1/58 ohm
per meter for a wire one square millimeter in cross section.
- an abbreviation for international bitterness (or bittering)
unit, a unit used in brewing beer and ale. One IBU is equal to 1
part per million of isohumulone, an acid (derived from hops) that
provides the bitterness in the brew. Measurements from 0 to about
70 IBU are possible, but most beers measure between 10 and 30
- abbreviation for inlet cubic feet per minute, a unit
traditionally used to measure the capacity of air
- symbol for international einheit, the German name for
the international unit (IU).
- abbreviation for Imperial gallons per minute.
- a traditional Swiss unit of liquid volume. The immi has been brought into
the metric system and now equals exactly 1.5 liters (about 3.17 U.S. liquid
- a large wine bottle holding about 6 liters, 8 times the volume
of a regular bottle. Also called a
- Imperial gallon (gal or IG)
- a traditional unit of volume equal to about 1.201 U.S. liquid gallon or
4.546 liters. See gallon . In Canada,
the term "Imperial" is used frequently to distinguish the British Imperial
units from the corresponding U.S. units.
- Imperial units
- the units of the British Imperial system, adopted by Parliament in 1824.
The basic units of the system are the foot,
the avoirdupois pound, and the Imperial pint.
The Weights and Measures Acts of 1963 and 1985 have redefined the Imperial
units in term of the SI units. The Imperial units
remain in varying degrees of use in Britain, Canada, Australia, and other
areas of British heritage despite the introduction of metric units there.
Americans should note that the Imperial foot and pound are essentially
the same as the units used in the U.S., but the Imperial pint is significantly
larger than the U.S. liquid and dry pints.
- inch (in or ")
- a traditional unit of distance equal to 1/12 foot
or exactly 2.54 centimeters. The Old English word ynce is
derived from the Latin uncia, meaning a 1/12 part; thus
"inch" and "ounce" actually have the same root. The inch was
originally defined in England in two ways: as the length of three
barleycorns laid end to end, or as the width of a man's thumb at
the base of the nail. The barleycorn definition is peculiarly
English, but the thumb-width definition is generic. In fact, in
many European languages the word for inch also means thumb:
examples include the Dutch duim, Swedish tum, French pouce, and
Spanish pulgada. In the history of English units the inch seems to
come before the foot: after the Norman conquest of 1066 the foot
was defined to equal 12 inches, rather than the inch being defined
as 1/12 foot.
- inch (in or ") 
- one of several traditional units of pressure. Air pressure is
measured traditionally in inches of mercury (next entry) and water
pressure in inches of water column (following entry).
- inch of mercury (in Hg)
- a traditional unit of atmospheric pressure. In the United
States, atmospheric pressure is customarily expressed as the
height of a column of mercury exerting the same pressure as the
atmosphere. When a traditional mercury barometer is used, this
height is read directly as the height of the mercury column. These
readings must be corrected for temperature since mercury, like
most liquids, tends to expand as it warms. The conventional
equivalent of one inch of mercury is 0.491 153 pounds per square
inch or 3.386 38 kilopascals
(33.8638 millibars). In the
symbol for the unit, Hg is the chemical symbol for mercury; it
comes from the Latin word hydrargyrum ("water-silver") for
the liquid metal.
- inch of water column (in
- a traditional unit of pressure, used in plumbing to describe
both water and gas pressures. The conventional equivalent of one
inch of water is 249.0889 pascals,
which is 2.490 889 millibars,
about 0.036 127 pounds per square inch (psi) or about 0.073 556
inches (1.868 32 millimeters) of mercury.
- inch of water gauge (in wg or "wg)
- another common name for the inch of water column. The word
"gauge" (or "gage") after a pressure reading indicates that the
pressure stated is actually the difference between the absolute,
or total, pressure and the air pressure at the time of the
- inch pound (in·lbf or in lb)
- a traditional unit of work or energy, equal to 1/12 foot
pound, about 0.112 985 joule or
1.0709 x 10-4 Btu.
- in d.
- abbreviation for the Latin in die, daily, a unit of
frequency used in medical prescriptions.
- inhour (ih or inhr)
- a unit used in nuclear engineering to describe the
"reactivity" of a nuclear reactor. In a reactor, fast-moving
neutrons break apart atoms of uranium or plutonium; the fission of
these atoms releases additional neutrons which keep the reaction
going. The ratio R between the number of neutrons created
and the number consumed in each cycle of fission must be very
close to 1 in order for the reaction to be controlled. The
reactivity is the difference k = R - 1 between this ratio
and 1. One inhour is the reactivity which will cause the number of
neutrons to increase by a factor of e
= 2.71828 in one hour; a reactivity of t inhours will cause
the number of neutrons to increase by a factor of e in
1/t hours. The exact size of the unit varies according to
the design of the reactor. Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), the
Italian-American physicist who built the first nuclear reactor,
introduced this unit in 1947; its name is an acronym for "inverse
hours." Other reactivity measures include the dollar
and the milli-k.
- international foot
- the current foot unit of the English-speaking countries, equal
to exactly 30.48 centimeters. See survey
foot for additional information.
- international nautical mile
- the nautical mile as
currently defined by international agreement, equal to exactly
1852 meters or 6076.11549 feet. This long name is sometimes used
to distinguish the current nautical mile from older units.
- international rubber hardness degree (IRHD)
- a unit used to measure the hardness of rubber and similar
materials (technically known as elastomers). Measurements are made
using an IRHD durometer, and the
results are usually similar, but not identical, to readings made
with the older Shore "A" durometer. The International Organization
for Standardization (ISO) and the American Society for Testing and
Materials (ASTM), among other standards agencies, have published
IRHD test procedures.
- international unit (IU)
- a unit used to measure the activity (that is, the effect) of
many vitamins and drugs. For each substance to which this unit
applies, there is an international agreement specifying the
biological effect expected with a dose of 1 IU. Other quantities
of the substance are then expressed as multiples of this standard.
Examples: 1 IU represents 45.5 micrograms of a standard
preparation of insulin or 0.6 microgram of a standard preparation
of penicillin. Consumers most often see IU's on the labels of
vitamin packages: in standard preparations the equivalent of 1 IU
is 0.3 microgram (0.0003 mg) for vitamin A, 50 micrograms (0.05
mg) for vitamin C, 25 nanograms (0.000 025 mg) for vitamin D, and
2/3 milligram for (natural) vitamin E. Please note: for many
substances there is no definite conversion between international
units and mass units (such as milligrams). This is because
preparations of those substances vary in activity, so that the
effect per milligram of one preparation is different from that of
- Internet time
- a global decimal time system proposed by the Swatch
Corporation. See beat for more
- an abbreviation for inches per second (in/s), a traditional
unit of velocity equal to 2.54 centimeters per second.
- an abbreviation for inches per year (in/yr), a traditional
unit for corrosion rates.
- Irish acre
- a traditional unit of land area in Ireland, equal to 160
square Irish perches (see next entry). This is equivalent in
English units to 7840 square yards, 70 560 square feet, or about
1.6198 English acre (0.6555
hectare). The colpa,
a traditional Irish unit of pasturage, is approximately equal to
the Irish acre.
- Irish mile
- the traditional mile in Ireland is 6720 feet,
which is 1.272 727 English mile or 2.048 256 kilometers. The
discrepancy arose because the Irish perch,
or rod, was standardized at 21 feet instead of the English figure
of 16.5 feet. Just as in England, the Irish chain
was equal to 4 perches (84 feet instead of 66 feet), the Irish
furlong was equal to 10 chains
(840 feet instead of 660 feet) and the mile was equal to 8
- a traditional unit measuring the thickness of leather used in
making shoes, especially the soles of the shoes. One iron is equal
to 1/48 inch (0.5292 millimeter), so a sole 1/4 inch thick is
described as "12 iron." The origin of this unit is unclear;
knowledgeable readers would be welcome!
- the "short name" of the International Organization for
Standardization. Based in Switzerland, the ISO sets international
industrial standards, including standards for the use of units of
measurements. For ISO film ratings, see ASA.
- IT calorie
- common name for the international steam table calorie,
a unit of energy equal to exactly 4.1868 joules.
Return to the Dictionary Contents
Skip to: A B
C D E
F G H
I J K
L M N
O P Q
R S T
U V W
X Y Z
You are welcome to email
the author (firstname.lastname@example.org) with comments and
All material in this folder is copyright © 2001 by Russ
Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Permission is granted for personal use and for use by individual
teachers in conducting their own classes. All other rights reserved.
You are welcome to make links to this page, but please do not copy
the contents of any page in this folder to another site. The material
at this site will be updated from time to time.
September 17, 2001