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Jul 10 2012   12:03PM GMT

Do you capitalize units of measurement named for people?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
The ______  is the International System of Units’ (SI) standard unit of power. It’s named for James Watt, a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer who developed the idea of horsepower.
a. Watt
b. watt

Answer: b.

Explanation:
This was kind of a trick question. You’d probably expect units of measurement named for people to be capitalized but that’s not the case. Like other units of measurement, “watt” is only capitalized as the symbol, “W.”

Here are a few other examples:

The tesla (T), the standard unit of magnetic flux density, is named for Nikola Tesla.

The newton (N), the SI unit of force, is named for Sir Isaac Newton.

The pascal (Pa), the unit of pressure, is named for Blaise Pascal.

The henry (H), the Standard International (SI) unit of inductance, is named for Joseph Henry.

 *****

NIST provides Essentials of the SI: Base & derived units.

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