I wonder what is the equivalence of saying “7 feet tall” or “1 inch thick” for weight. Is it “55 pounds heavy”?


That would make sense -- which, since this is English we're talking about here, naturally means that it's wrong. Instead the idiomatic expression is:

55 pounds in weight

Again, naturally, this is completely redundant, because what else would "pounds" measure other than weight? Nevertheless, this is what native speakers actually say.

(OK, sure, "pounds" might be UK money, but in most contexts it would be obvious which you were talking about. Still, that may be why the idiom persists, since it is possible to be ambiguous:)

Jim: I lost 10 pounds!
Henry: Congratulations! Good for you.
Jim: No, I mean I lost a tenner when I was riding the Tube. It must have fallen out of my pocket.

  • I agree with your basic answer and up-voted it. But I strongly suspect your explanation in terms of potential ambiguity is specious. Ambiguity would not apply to ounces or kilograms, and yet the same structure would be used. If I were to guess, it is that there is a verb "weigh" that provides the truly idiomatic way to describe the situation: "It weighs 50 pounds." In fact, when we think of pounds in terms of money we normally say "fifty pounds worth" rather than "50 pounds in worth." Of course, I am speculating. – Jeff Morrow Oct 4 '18 at 1:04
  • @JeffMorrow I will admit to completely making things up -- but still, language has significant inertia. An English "pound" was originally the equivalent of one pound of silver, and though that hasn't been true for many years, it's possible this is one of the consequent linguistic artifacts. I expect in a similar way we will still be dialing up our friends a hundred years after phones stopped having actual dials. – Andrew Oct 4 '18 at 1:16
  • If it’s light, can we say “it’s just 3 pound light?” – user67265 Oct 4 '18 at 1:20
  • @user67265 No, again, that would make too much sense for English. Light objects are also measured in weight, or simply weigh a small amount. – Andrew Oct 4 '18 at 1:30
  • @Andrew Yes. I know the phrase: it weighs just 3 pounds. – user67265 Oct 4 '18 at 1:31

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