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[gal-uh n] /ˈgæl ən/
a common unit of capacity in English-speaking countries, equal to four quarts, the U.S. standard gallon being equal to 231 cubic inches (3.7853 liters), and the British imperial gallon to 277.42 cubic inches (4.546 liters).
Abbreviation: gal.
Origin of gallon
1250-1300; Middle English galo(u)n, gallon < Old North French galon, derivative from base of Medieval Latin gallēta jug, bucket, of uncertain origin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for gallon
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • My calculation is, that they drink on the average two-thirds of a gallon each per day, at a cost of 2d.

    Tea and Tea Drinking Arthur Reade
  • Four tablespoonfuls to a gallon of water will be sufficient.

  • A bowl holding about a gallon was placed upon the table, and the fumes of the Santa Cruz rum were grateful to our nostrils.

    The Gold Hunter's Adventures William H. Thomes
  • Your voice sounds to me like you've been drinkin' about a gallon of mixed ale.

    The Life of the Party Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb
  • One gallon of water and four pounds of ordinary washing soda, and a quarter of a pound of soda.

    The Whitehouse Cookbook (1887) Mrs. F.L. Gillette
British Dictionary definitions for gallon


(Brit) Also called imperial gallon. a unit of capacity equal to 277.42 cubic inches. 1 Brit gallon is equivalent to 1.20 US gallons or 4.55 litres
(US) a unit of capacity equal to 231 cubic inches. 1 US gallon is equivalent to 0.83 imperial gallon or 3.79 litres
(pl) great quantities
Word Origin
C13: from Old Northern French galon (Old French jalon), perhaps of Celtic origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gallon

liquid measure, late 13c., from Old North French galon, corresponding to Old French jalon "liquid measure," related to jale "bowl," from Medieval Latin diminutive form galleta "bucket, pail," also "a measure of wine," of unknown origin, perhaps from Gaulish galla "vessel."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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gallon in Medicine

gallon gal·lon (gāl'ən)
Abbr. gal.
A unit of volume in the U.S. Customary System, used in liquid measure, equal to 4 quarts, 231 cubic inches, or 8.3389 pounds of distilled water (3.7853 liters).

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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gallon in Science
A unit of liquid volume or capacity in the US Customary System equal to 4 quarts (3.79 liters). See Table at measurement.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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