unit (n.)

1560s, "single number regarded as an undivided whole," alteration of unity on the basis of digit. Popularized in John Dee's English translation of Euclid, to express Greek monas (Dee says unity formerly was used in this sense). Meaning "single thing regarded as a member of a group" is attested from 1640s. Extended sense of "a quantity adopted as a standard of measure" is from 1738. Sense of "group of wards in a hospital" is attested from 1893.

updated on September 28, 2012

Definitions of unit from WordNet

unit (n.)
any division of quantity accepted as a standard of measurement or exchange;
a unit of wheat is a bushel
change per unit volume
the dollar is the United States unit of currency
Synonyms: unit of measurement
unit (n.)
an individual or group or structure or other entity regarded as a structural or functional constituent of a whole;
the reduced the number of units and installations
the word is a basic linguistic unit
unit (n.)
an organization regarded as part of a larger social group;
the coach said the offensive unit did a good job
after the battle the soldier had trouble rejoining his unit
Synonyms: social unit
unit (n.)
a single undivided whole;
an idea is not a unit that can be moved from one brain to another
unit (n.)
a single undivided natural thing occurring in the composition of something else;
units of nucleic acids
Synonyms: building block
unit (n.)
an assemblage of parts that is regarded as a single entity;
the team is a unit
Synonyms: whole
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.