In a list of ingredients you'd have something like the following :

5 grams of flour

2 cups of lemon juice

10 slices of meat

What word would you use to describe 'grams', 'cups' and 'slices' in the previous examples?

My thoughts:


This works well for grams and fluid oz but doesn't seem right when describing something like cups, slices or bunches although that might just be me.

Measure (n)

Measure to me sounded unique enough but can get confused with the verb form as well as a measure used in cocktail making.


This seemed more appropriate for something that you'd measured, the thing that you measured is a measurement.

  • Units of measurement. 5 units of flour using a 1 gram measure, 2 units of lemon using a cup, 10 units of meat, using 20 g slices for measure. – mplungjan May 26 '14 at 13:40
  • 1
    Measure doesn't work precisely because you then have to go on and define what your measure is. So you're back to square one. A unit, on the other hand, is whatever you measure the stuff in. If you measure it in cups, then cup is your unit. If you measure it in elephants or fridges, then these are units alright. It definitely is just you that units "don't work for cups, slices, or bunches". Units work for anything at all. – RegDwigнt May 26 '14 at 13:41
  • Anything should work with unit -- in a broader sense. We buy milk in 100 ml "units" right up to 5 KL "units". See also SKU at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock_keeping_unit – Kris May 26 '14 at 14:05
  • Yes, you all seem to make a lot of sense, seems slightly obvious now it comes to it. I think I had the mentality of thinking units could only be applicable to official units of volume or weight as I've never used units to describe anything other than ml or grams. I suppose it's just my lack of usage. Thanks all – alex.p May 26 '14 at 14:21

The word is unit. Gram, ounce, meter, inch, second, and so on are units of measurement. And yes, so are cup, slice, pinch, and bunch. Sometimes the measure (size) of such units is determined roughly (e.g. a pinch of salt); sometimes a unit has a more precise or more formal definition.

  • The standard SI slice. – Edwin Ashworth May 26 '14 at 14:55
  • @EdwinAshworth: I like it! But then there are Imperial Slices and American Slices. ;-) You can guess which is fatter. – Drew May 26 '14 at 14:58
  • But if you put a ton of butter on it ... – Edwin Ashworth May 26 '14 at 15:02
  • @EdwinAshworth: A ton of butter spread on an American slice of butter is still a (single) American slice of butter. We call this the "absorption principle". Dunno what the Imperial equivalent is. – Drew May 26 '14 at 15:05
  • English tons are bigger than American ones. Well, measure a greater mass. – Edwin Ashworth May 26 '14 at 15:07

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