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View Poll Results: What does the term dozen indicate?
It is a unit of quantity that contains 12 items 27 90.00%
It is number 12 3 10.00%
Voters: 30. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-10-2015, 04:48   #1
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Can You Fathom the Dozen?

Is a dozen a unit of quantity in it’s own right or is it just another way of representing the number 12?

While this poll is slightly humorous, it is also slightly serious.

From some other recent threads and especially some of the thread drift, it seems some (many?) of us simply believe the term dozen is nothing more than another way saying 12. I suggest it is a unit of quantity is the same way as foot, pound, second, keg, carton, basket and so on are units of quantity. To believe otherwise, I submit that at the best, such is disrespectful of “dozen” and at the worst, just plain wrong. I’m not sure why others can’t see this and I suggest that too many of us don’t extend our thinking beyond what we “already know” or perhaps never get past engineering / science concepts. And perhaps consider why has dozen been dumbed down?

But you judge – after hearing the evidence ☺

I can only prosecute the case for it being a unit of quantity and I would like to think that this thread could be considered as a debate rather than as an argument.

First we need to consider more than basic physics, simple maths and the like. We need to take an extended view, a philosophical and historical view. While not the greatest font of knowledge, have a quick look at Wikipedia for a primer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dozen
I will let you do your own research after that.

Dozen is unit of quantity and while it is conveniently the same value of 12, that doesn’t make it simply 12 in the same way that a mole is a unit of quantity yet while it can be represented by 6.02214129(27)×10 to the power 23, it remains a mole.

But let’s not get too scientific about this, it easier to understand by using everyday common language. Consider the “Storeman”, not usually considered the sharpest knife in the drawer but in the case of using, understanding and keeping track of stuff in the store, a good storeman reins supreme.

Every storeman has at least three columns in his book of records. They are the Identifier (part number or description or both), Quantity (qty) and Unit (foot, each, packet of 7, etc). Note how important the distinction between quantity and unit is. Without that separation, the store becomes an unusable mess.

The identifier is unimportant for our discussion. The qty is simply a number using the decimal system, like 1 or 3 or 682 or whatever. I know you know this but it is important to realize that is the entire information qty column contains. The Unit is a more trickly. The terms “each” or ”piece” is straightforward as it indicates unity or an otherwise undividable (in the general sense) item. As is the term “one”. Some other units are also quite understandable like foot, Metre, Kilogram, gallon and so on. However other units like carton or basket or bag cause some contention although they are legitimate. But none seem to cause so much misunderstanding as dozen. Some insist it is just a number. If so, it has no right to be in the unit column, it should be in the qty column. But no decent storeman would ever do that because it is simply wrong.

To explain further, let’s take another everyday example. It is coming on apple season here so I will use the apple orchard.

If I want to know how many apples are in the orchard, I can use various units and assign the correct number to each to as appropriate. Thus I could Kg as a the unit and my pickers might have picked 1,793 Kg of apples today. I could use carton as the unit and maybe the pickers picked 158 cartons of apples today or even 273 bags. Likewise I might prefer to measure the day’s pick in the unit dozen and so the final tally for the day might be 98 dozen apples.

You can’t say 2 dozen Kg but you can say 24 Kg because dozen is unit of quantity, not a number. Likewise you can 12 dozen or 144 or 1 gross but you can’t say a dozen dozen .

So the term dozen is a unit of quantity, not just another way of saying 12. Of course, the storeman can use 12 as a unit and it permissible to have say 12 of those units (i.e. 144 widgets) in the store but each time you wanted a widget, you would get a pack of twelve
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Old 11-10-2015, 05:34   #2
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

If not a measurement of quantity, then why is a 'baker's dozen', being 13. The term originated in England, where any left over dough was baked into a small loaf for the peasants.
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Old 11-10-2015, 05:46   #3
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

If not for the dozen how would you derive the gross?
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Old 11-10-2015, 06:05   #4
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

Wotname - actually if you are out picking apples, you'd not pick apples by the dozen but rather by the bushel (unit of measure) or if your orchard is not producing, perhaps you'd pick a peck (half a bushel).

Interesting, in the US eggs are virtually always sold by either the dozen or half- dozen (6). Here in europe, eggs are sold (in my end of europe) in packages of 6 or 10 (not 12 normally) although the word "dusin" exists and means "dozen" or 12.

Re a peck - there's an old tongue-twister "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers...."

Pickled peppers are not dry volume so Peter Piper couldn't have picked a peck of them

Ah the philosphical discussions we get into around here
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Old 11-10-2015, 08:28   #5
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

Firstly, your poll is meaningless since "number" and "unit of quantity" are exactly the same thing.

Secondly, I could apply exactly the same reasoning with regard to inventory for "hundred". So are you saying that a hundred is a not a number - or any other common "case lots" such as 48 or 144 (aka a gross). These are all clearly both a number and a unit of quantity since those terms are synonymous.

Thirdly, no one has argued that it is not a unit of quantity since that is just another word for "number". The question in the other threads was whether or not it was dimensionless.

You are making the same error again above when you compare a dozen to a foot, pound or second. These are dimensional quantities and are completely different to a dozen. I can say 2 feet, 2 pounds or 2 seconds and it is clear exactly what I am talking about. There is absolutely no difference between 12 feet and a dozen feet.

Their is however a fundamental difference between a dozen and a foot, pound or second.

A dozen dozen is a gross or 144 which is still dimensionless. It is still just a number and we have to ask "144 what?".

A dozen feet is a distance i.e it has a dimension of length just as a dozen pounds has a dimension of weight (or mass) and a dozen seconds has a dimension of time.

If you say 2 dozen, I can only ask "2 dozen what?".

As for the historical view which you say should be considered. Dozen is just an anglicised form of the french word for 12 (douze or douzaine). It's like trying to make a distinction between cow meat (from anglo saxon) and beef (from the french bouef) or sheep meat (from anglo saxon) and mutton (from the french mouton).
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Old 11-10-2015, 08:37   #6
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

No...

But I can dozen two fathoms...
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Old 11-10-2015, 08:48   #7
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

Oh, and one other thought. No storeman worth his salt would put dozen into the "units" quantity of an inventory system. You need to be able to multiply quantity by units to determine stock on hand. I write a lot of software for a living including inventory systems and I ensure that the "units" quantity doesn't accept text, only numbers for exactly this reason.
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:04   #8
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

Conversely one can say a "dozen dozens," yet
one would never say a "pound pounds."
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:31   #9
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

Your question is valid but your poll is not. You missed the *both?* option.

I believe a dozen is actually both an alternative name for the number (twelve) and a descriptive for any group of twelve items.

But I am sure there is where your joke begins.

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Old 11-10-2015, 09:36   #10
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jongleur View Post
Conversely one can say a "dozen dozens," yet
one would never say a "pound pounds."
However, people say "ATM Machine" and "Pounds PSI" all the time.

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Old 11-10-2015, 11:20   #11
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

I think the head of a pin can accommodate three dozen angels. So the unit of measure "head of a pin" is 3x12 angels, or 36, but that is only for angels. How many pecks would be a different unit of measure, but it can be derived once you know how many angels are in one peck, or conversely, how many pecks in one angel, depending on which is bigger.
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Old 11-10-2015, 12:27   #12
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

From Wikipedia:

A dozen (commonly abbreviated doz or dz) is a grouping of twelve. The dozen may be one of the earliest primitive groupings, perhaps because there are approximately a dozen cycles of the moon or months in a cycle of the sun or year.

Twelve is convenient because it has more divisors than other small numbers: 12 = 2 × 6 = 3 × 4 = 1 × 12. The use of twelve as a base number, known as the duodecimal system (also as dozenal), probably originated in Mesopotamia (see also sexagesimal).

This could come from counting on one's fingers by counting each finger bone with one's thumb. Using this method, one hand can count to twelve, and two hands can count to 144.

Twelve dozen (122 = 144, the duodecimal 100) are known as a gross; and twelve gross (123 = 1,728, the duodecimal 1,000) are called a great gross, a term most often used when shipping or buying items in bulk. A great hundred, also known as a small gross, is 120 or ten dozen. A baker's dozen, also known as a big or long dozen, is 13.

Of course and we can take it further to long and short tons, kiloton (where we combine metric and imperial units) and henweigh which is of course about 3 pounds.
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Old 11-10-2015, 12:44   #13
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

Of course - in the civilised world we use a decimal system, so no one really gives tinkers cuss about dozen's.
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Old 11-10-2015, 12:50   #14
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

The metric system is quite boring. A French standard is quite something.

A little mental gymnastics is involved in using the imperial system.

I use both.

Just be thankful we don't have to rejig everything when the king dies. If the new king has a different sized foot chaos ensues.

Some of the best units are too little used these days, cubit, jerk, poid....

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Old 11-10-2015, 13:22   #15
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Re: Can You Fathom the Dozen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Factor View Post
Of course - in the civilised world we use a decimal system, so no one really gives tinkers cuss about dozen's.
Unless your a egg farmer, who sells 50,000 cartons of eggs a day (in the USA). Or a tailor who needs a dozen yards of material.

Strange that textiles, at least in the us is still sold in yards, Not feet or meters.
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