One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An Egyptian unit of weight and capacity used chiefly for grain, varying with the locality and the commodity but typically equivalent to approx. 330 lb (150 kg) or 5 bushels (190 litres).
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Charles Perry (d. 1780), traveller and medical writer. From Egyptian Arabic irdabb, ardabb from Coptic rtob (from Egyptian Demotic rtb, in turn perhaps ultimately (via Aramaic 'ardaḇ, (emphatic form) 'ardĕḇā') from an Old Iranian language); compare ancient Greek and Hellenistic Greek ἀρτάβη, denoting a Persian dry measure (Herodotus 1.192) and (in Egyptian inscriptions and papyri) an Egyptian dry measure.
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