percent

or per cent

[per-sent]
adjective
  1. figured or expressed on the basis of a rate or proportion per hundred (used in combination with a number in expressing rates of interest, proportions, etc.): to get three percent interest. Symbol: %

Origin of percent

1560–70; short for Medieval Latin per centum by the hundred. See per, cent
Related formsper·cent·al, adjective
Can be confusedpercent percentage percentile (see usage note at the current entry)

Usage note

Percent is from the Latin adverbial phrase per centum meaning “by the hundred.” The Latin phrase entered English in the 16th century. Later, it was abbreviated per cent. with a final period. Eventually, the period was dropped and the two parts merged to produce the modern one-word form percent. The two-word form per cent is still used occasionally, but its use is diminishing. The percent sign ( % ) is used chiefly in scientific, tabular, or statistical material and only with numerals preceding it: 58%; a range of 30% to 40%.
In the senses “rate or proportion per hundred” and “proportion in general” percent and percentage are frequently interchangeable. With a preceding number, only percent occurs ( a 16 percent decline ); with no preceding number, either occurs, but percentage is much more common: a certain percentage (or percent ) of the land.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for per cent

per cent

adverb
  1. Also: per centum in or for every hundredSymbol: %
noun Also: per'cent
  1. a percentage or proportion
  2. (often plural) securities yielding a rate of interest as specifiedhe bought three percents

Word Origin for per cent

C16: from Medieval Latin per centum out of every hundred
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

Word Origin and History for per cent

percent

1560s, per cent, from Modern Latin per centum "by the hundred" (see per and hundred). Until early 20c. often treated as an abbreviation and punctuated accordingly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

per cent in Science

percent

  1. One part in a hundred. For example, 62 percent (also written 62%) means 62 parts out of 100.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

per cent in Culture

percent

A fraction expressed as a number of hundredths. Twelve percent of a quantity, for example, is twelve one-hundredths of it. Twelve percent may also be written 12%.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.