:: Return to former names in 1800 ::
The misadventures and successes of the French metric system in France...

The government, willing to boost the spreading of the metric system, prescribed through the 4 November 1800 order: "The weights and measures decimal system will be definitely implemented for the whole Republic, from 23 September 1801 on."

The order also read: "It will be possible to translate the names given to weights and measures by the following French names in official acts as well as in everyday use in order to make easier this implementation." A list gave a "translation" for every "systematic name".

Both designations were considered as synonymous. You could use one or the other name, or both, on weights and measures as well as in written documents and acts.

The government, by this return to traditional vocabulary, was willing to get people used to the new system more easily. However, the former name that was used again was now designating a quantity which was different from the one it formerly corresponded to. Moreover, the measures that the government was describing as "former" were actually the current measures that were used everywhere. When you used the "translation", it was often hard to know what you were talking about. For example, was a "livre" a former quantity equivalent to nearly 489 grammes or a new one that was 1,000 grammes heavy?

Thus, the different names allowed in the 4 November 1800 order were source of constant mistakes and frauds. This situation lasted until 1812.

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