In Captain's Courageous, the crew of the We're Here returned to port with "1500 quintal" in their hold.

I know that a "quintal" is a "hundredweight" which is 100 pounds, but I do not quite understand why. Doesn't "quint" come from Latin, meaning "5"

  • 1
    The etymology of quintal seems to be rather convoluted. Its root appears to be Arabic, not Latin. As a fairly well-read Brit, I've never come across the term. – Mick Nov 10 '16 at 13:12
  • 3
    @Mick It's actually from from Latin cent- via Greek kent- into Arabic qint- and thence back into medieval Latin and OF quint-. A wandering path indeed. – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 10 '16 at 13:38
  • @Mick Like you I've never before heard of a quintal. The imperial measure of a hundredweight was always 112 lbs, or 8 stone. But nowadays in Britain such a measure has given way to the slightly different 50kg. – WS2 Nov 10 '16 at 15:13

Quintal does not derive from Middle French quint from Latin quintus, but from Latin centenarius "containing a hundred". Its origin is quite convoluted as shown below:

  • Quintal became Late Latin centenarium pondus, then in succession, Late Greek, κεντηνάριον (kentenarion), Arabic, qintar. The qintar was reimported to Europe by traders during the Middle Ages, where it became Mediæval Latin quintale, and finally Old French quintal before passing into the English language from French.

  • Languages drawing its cognate name for the weight from Arabic qintar include Spanish quintal, French quintal, Italian quintale, Portuguese quintal, Ukrainian квінтал (kvintal), Esperanto kvintalo. Languages taking their cognates from Germanicized centner include German Zentner, Lithuanian centneris, Swedish centner, Polish cetnar, Russian центнер (tsentner), Estonian tsentner, and Spanish centena.

  • Many European languages have come to translate both the Imperial and US hundredweight as their cognate form of quintal or centner.

From: (www.liquisearch.com)

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