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[kee-loh, kil-oh] /ˈki loʊ, ˈkɪl oʊ/
noun, plural kilos.
(a word used in communications to represent the letter K.)
Origin of kilo
First recorded in 1865-70; shortened form


a Greek combining form meaning “thousand,” introduced from French in the nomenclature of the metric system (kiloliter); on this model, used in the formation of compound words in other scientific measurements (kilowatt).
< French, representing Greek chī́lioi a thousand Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for kilo
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We prefer to use about five litres of the liquid to each one kilo.

  • Magkupras mig ipatimbang, We will make copra to sell by the kilo.

  • kilo rakes a coal from the fire and blows the ashes from it.

    The Saxons Edwin Davies Schoonmaker
  • Well, I waked this morning just after sunrise with a feeling that kilo was there staring at me.

    Angel Island Inez Haynes Gillmore
  • As a rule, all duties in Cuba are levied by the kilo and hundred kilos.

    Industrial Cuba Robert P. Porter
  • They went down to the boat house, and soon were out on the lake in the kilo.

  • On Tom's kilo there was a small, electrical searchlight which he had not yet switched on.

British Dictionary definitions for kilo


noun (pl) kilos
short for kilogram, kilometre


(communications) a code word for the letter k


denoting 10³ (1000): kilometre, k
(in computer technology) denoting 210 (1024): kilobyte: in computer usage, kilo- is restricted to sizes of storage (e.g. kilobit) when it means 1024; in other computer contexts it retains its usual meaning of 1000
Word Origin
from French, from Greek khilioi thousand
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 kilo

1870, shortening of kilogram. Slang shortening key (in drug trafficking) is attested from 1968.


word-forming element meaning "one thousand," introduced in French 1795, when the metric system was officially adopted there, from Greek khilioi "thousand," of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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kilo in Medicine

kilo- pref.
One thousand (103): kilogram.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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kilo in Science
  1. A prefix that means:

  2. One thousand, as in kilowatt, one thousand watts.

  3. 210 (that is, 1,024), which is the power of 2 closest to 1,000, as in kilobyte.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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