Definition of unit in English:



  • 1An individual thing or person regarded as single and complete but which can also form an individual component of a larger or more complex whole.

    ‘the family unit’
    ‘large areas of land made up of smaller units’
    ‘the sentence as a unit of grammar’
    • ‘They chose to film my boys together as one unit… instead of individuals.’
    • ‘Draw the lucky straw and you may have a wonderful childhood regardless of the ingredients of the family unit.’
    • ‘Does the whole lipid always move as a single unit or could its motion proceed segment by segment?’
    • ‘Duties are also grouped according to whether they are owed to individuals or to larger units such as the family, society, or the state.’
    • ‘This, in my view, clearly contemplates the structure as a whole, as a single unit, and not the component parts of it.’
    • ‘Raised in fragmented family units, more of us live by ourselves.’
    • ‘Under no circumstances will any unit or individual be permitted to act contrary to the law.’
    • ‘Sri Lankan Americans live in single family units without relatives, although relatives may migrate to the same community.’
    • ‘They lacked cohesion and, for the most part, played as 15 individuals rather than a single unit.’
    • ‘Cooking, however, often is done within the constituent nuclear family units.’
    • ‘There was another member to our family unit but he decided he preferred the pub and his single life than spending time with his family.’
    • ‘Together, these people form the components of a single unit.’
    • ‘In many instances one finds several customary family units occupying a single house, often residing in a bedroom each.’
    • ‘This means that the Government will need to know whether every one of those 8 million Australians is in a family unit, is part of a couple or is a single.’
    • ‘Half of all their families are single-parent units.’
    • ‘Think of the back as one whole unit when you train, rather than breaking it down into its individual parts.’
    • ‘Children don't have specific rights in the Constitution as Article 41 protects the family unit based on marriage.’
    • ‘The right to privacy has been held to attach to families as units, not to their individual members.’
    • ‘As a matter of policy we should aim to keep the family as a single unit.’
    • ‘The lead children don't gel convincingly as a family unit and their performances, on the whole, are stilted.’
    component, part, section, element, constituent, subdivision, portion, segment, module, item, member, ingredient, factor, feature, piece, fragment
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A device that has a specified function, especially one forming part of a complex mechanism.
      ‘the gearbox and transmission unit’
      • ‘An interface switching device is connected to a keyboard unit and a computer.’
      • ‘One drawback of the mechanical units is that they are limited in volume.’
      • ‘These units incorporated mechanical gyroscopes and while the aircraft were fitted with sextants, it was the INUs that became the primary means of navigation.’
      • ‘Understandably, today's active lighting is far more sophisticated than the old mechanical units.’
      • ‘GPS units are also safety devices as well as conveniences.’
      • ‘The Parisian shows, says Hütter, marked the start of a new chapter as the band's portable studio has been shrunk to four laptop-sized keyboard units.’
      • ‘The reason is that mechanical traction units are effective in nuclear disc lesions, and recurrence of pain after back surgery.’
      • ‘This may be due to the fact that while their external appearance is mechanical, their processing units are primarily organic.’
      • ‘The antenna unit that contains the transmitter and receiver is connected to the display with a multi conductor cable.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, dairies that employ mechanical refrigeration units can take note of recent advancements in those systems as well.’
      • ‘Also provided is a cord by which you can plug the unit into a video recording device.’
      • ‘Hard drives and recording devices such as CD-R units have not been included in the list of taxable media, but they are likely to be included at some point in the future.’
      • ‘If you're selling an electronic gadget, the unit on display must be operable.’
      • ‘He notes that mechanical units have a finite life determined by hours of run time and regular periodic maintenance programs.’
      • ‘As the DSG gearbox is a mechanical unit, not a fuel sapping automatic type, fuel consumption is not adversely affected.’
      • ‘Separate toner and drum units reduce running costs and the first page comes out in under seven seconds.’
      • ‘For an additional charge, Beretta can replace the trigger unit with a mechanical version.’
      • ‘In the standard configuration, separate light emitter and detector units are used.’
      • ‘Each unit has its own heating and air conditioning units contained in the mechanical room.’
      • ‘Final alignment is done with a device that pulls the units together to be bolted.’
    2. 1.2 A piece of furniture or equipment for fitting with others like it or made of complementary parts.
      ‘a sink unit’
      • ‘It contains extensive wall and floor units, display cabinets and a hob, oven and extractor fan.’
      • ‘A compact fitted kitchen with maple units and chrome fittings is located off the dining area to the rear of the house.’
      • ‘He can build cupboards, beds, chairs, television units - all kinds of furniture.’
      • ‘Handcrafted wooden furniture, desktop units, lamps and even a handcrafted electric guitar was also exhibited.’
      • ‘It is fully tiled and has been fitted with a range of units and display cabinets.’
      • ‘Open shelf units, closed cupboards and filing cabinets complementing the desks are available.’
      • ‘Also to the front is a double bedroom which is currently used as a study and which includes a wooden desk, bookcases and several shelving units.’
      • ‘A utility room off the kitchen includes a fitted broom cupboard, floor units and stainless steel sink.’
      • ‘Upstairs there are two double bedrooms to the front of the house, both with built-in wardrobes and sink units.’
      • ‘On the other hand the internal wall at the back of the lamia was up which made the kitchen and bathroom into real rooms and much easier to visualise where the fittings, worktops and units would go.’
      • ‘A number of damaged units were removed from the kitchen.’
      • ‘All of the rooms are large and the kitchen is fully fitted with solid wood units and stainless steel fittings.’
      • ‘The kitchen is fitted with maple units and display cabinets as well as a breakfast bar, while an adjoining conservatory area has a pitched glass ceiling and another set of patio doors.’
      • ‘She also carries out these effects on furniture, including kitchen units, dining sets, chairs, mirrors.’
      • ‘The kitchen has maple wall and floor units with integrated display cabinets and a wine rack.’
      • ‘Showers will have screens instead of curtains, there will be heated towel rails and versatile drawers, shelves, cupboards and desk units.’
      • ‘It stocks all manner of furniture, from dressing tables and desks to entertainment units and bed bases.’
      • ‘The bright en suite bathroom has a corner bath with telephone shower attachment, a bidet and a sink unit.’
      • ‘Tables, kitchen units and sideboards should also be avoided.’
      • ‘The fallen lumber was taken away and turned into kitchen units and a dining table.’
    3. 1.3 A self-contained section of accommodations in a larger building or group of buildings.
      ‘one- and two-bedroom units’
      • ‘Halfway through the plan, however, dozens of buildings have been demolished but only a small number of replacement units have been built.’
      • ‘Ms. Finnegan went on to state that while 1,300 houses had been built in the city and county last year, the increase in the number of units provided had not kept place with demand.’
      • ‘The plan promised opportunities for home ownership in a refurbished community, in exchange for a sharp reduction in the number of publicly funded units.’
      • ‘The building has 21 one-bedroomed units, a shop, workshops and a cafe.’
      • ‘But the point somehow needs to be hammered home that more apartment buildings and social housing units need to be urgently put up.’
      • ‘They included the height of the flats, the car parking, the number of units and the re-organisation of the site to get more communal space.’
      • ‘And property owners in various districts continue to turn apartment buildings into condo units, or at least try to.’
      • ‘The site has a main building and 47 industrial units surrounded by state-of-the-art fencing and covered by CCTV.’
      • ‘The number of units on each site will depend on its characteristics, and the appropriate housing mix for the area and other facilities.’
      • ‘The building houses 131 units, ranging from superior rooms to studio apartments, executive studios and then to one and two bedroom family suites.’
      • ‘The junk of scaffolding at the bottom of the photo is actually the theatre itself - it's actually a self-contained unit within the building.’
      • ‘I am not certain how this will affect the number of units available for rent.’
      • ‘It is expected that the centre will be in the region of 6,000 square feet and will contain a number of units ranging from 500 to 1000 square feet.’
      • ‘He reports that the historically designated building will house units from 1,450 square feet to a massive 3,449 square feet over its five floors.’
      • ‘The number of low-cost rental units on the market has plummeted by as much as 75 per cent over eight years.’
      • ‘According to her, the site will be sold to a private developer for housing but there might be a restriction on the number of units due to the scenic nature of the area.’
      • ‘In view of this, he encouraged the Government to consider granting zoning relief at certain sites to increase the numbers of units that could be built there.’
      • ‘Block B is to contain 35 luxury hotel suites, 44 apartments and two retail units in a building five and six storeys in height.’
      • ‘The scheme will also have offices, industrial units, shops, bars and restaurants.’
      • ‘The county council has applied for planning permission to convert the listed building into three residential units and once this has been granted will put it on to the open market.’
    4. 1.4 A part of an institution such as a hospital having a special function.
      ‘the intensive care unit’
      • ‘The Government also aims to increase the numbers of learning support units, which allow disruptive children to be taken out of the classroom and taught separately.’
      • ‘The unit will offer international standard risk management services to Indian companies.’
      • ‘Many police forces have introduced units to tackle vandalism, fire-raising and violence between security firms.’
      • ‘Some experts predict the situation will get worse and spread across Scotland as a result of a government review which will see a number of maternity units close as care is centralised.’
      • ‘Post-apartheid South Africa has trained domestic violence units in its police force.’
      • ‘A number of units arrived on the scene within a matter of minutes and broke through the locked gates to where the contents of a skip were ablaze.’
      • ‘Specifically excluded from this study were specimens obtained from intensive care units and emergency departments.’
      • ‘He said the new head of homicide is one of the best qualified officers of color in the department to run the unit.’
      • ‘The bottom line is that we must see action, not more mobile police stations or eye-in-the-sky units.’
      • ‘We would be called ever so often to augment police units at checkpoints and roadblocks on days when tension ran high.’
      • ‘Critical care units represent the apex of technically intensive American medicine.’
      • ‘She said car crime had gone down and that the police had introduced off-road units, or police officers on motorbikes, to target these kinds of crimes.’
      • ‘He said detectors had been commonly used in the United States for many years but only a small number of casualty units in Britain had them, among them the Northern General in Sheffield.’
      • ‘It wants the number of armed response units on patrol in Scotland to be increased and for it to be made easier for trained officers to gain access to weapons to deal with incidents involving firearms.’
      • ‘The failure was that of the police unit and not of the witness.’
      • ‘Prospective recruits for police dog units would undergo similar psychological tests before being taken on.’
      • ‘The college has set up a number of teaching units at the cattle market in Gargrave Road, all linked to agriculture and the countryside.’
      • ‘I've just spent four days working at the anti-terrorist unit in Paddington Green police station, west London.’
      • ‘Those figures do not even include the amounts allocated to police and forensics units that work with the prosecution.’
      • ‘If several people in a unit or department want flexible schedules, it may not be feasible to accommodate all of them.’
      division, section, sector, subsection, subdivision, branch, arm, wing, segment, compartment
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    5. 1.5 A subdivision of a larger military grouping.
      ‘he returned to Germany with his unit’
      • ‘Land, sea, and air units are represented as well as the gendarmerie.’
      • ‘The Red Army used infantry and cavalry units to move more resolutely and to a deeper depth.’
      • ‘You may well see units coming from a number of smaller NATO countries.’
      • ‘Journalists who signed a contract with the military were embedded with units in every military branch.’
      • ‘A legion was a military unit of the Roman army made up of infantry and supporting cavalry numbering three to six thousand men.’
      • ‘The Army does not command and control contractors in the way it commands and controls military units and soldiers.’
      • ‘A guidon is traditionally carried by cavalry units in battle and marks the rally point for the troops before commencing the battle.’
      • ‘It is used by active duty military personnel in field units and will not present any physical hazards to the soldier.’
      • ‘The book unemotionally depicts the reality that Red Army rifle units experienced in the war, warts and all.’
      • ‘With reporters wed to a military unit on the battlefield, the relationship would be symbiotic.’
      • ‘But when Greek army and navy units mutinied in Egypt in April 1944 there were a number of deaths.’
      • ‘Times when the enemy ‘entered by force’ with infantry or cavalry units have passed.’
      • ‘No fewer that 13 separate units are represented within the group.’
      • ‘This produced numerous field executions and the frequent use of decimation against undisciplined units.’
      • ‘Some instruction is for military units, such as Special Forces training in Mali and Senegal.’
      • ‘A comparatively low level of casualties can demoralize both individual military units and the entire army.’
      • ‘I have long been a fan of the concept of embedded media with military units in wartime.’
      • ‘Many members of the unit are police officers or prison guards who will be returning to those jobs.’
      • ‘The initiative places reporters alongside military units on the front lines.’
      • ‘The situation in Java was much like a repeat of the Philippines, and the Allied aerial units were once again decimated by an aggressive enemy.’
      detachment, contingent, outfit, section, division, company, squadron, corps, regiment, brigade, platoon, battalion, force, garrison, legion, formation, crew, squad, detail
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    6. 1.6 An amount of educational instruction, typically determined by the number of hours spent in class.
      ‘students take three compulsory core units’
      • ‘It's interesting that few teachers have a unit of sports or use sports books to hook their students.’
      • ‘Always remember, the units described here are to supplement your core curriculum.’
      • ‘Most of the college units and courses on the National Qualifications catalogue have been designed and developed by the colleges themselves.’
      • ‘Include multiple author units in your school year.’
      • ‘Ganma entails more than including compulsory units of Aboriginal studies into the existing curriculum.’
      • ‘During this block, the teacher candidates teach units in each of the subject areas.’
      • ‘Those who complete the online course will receive 0.2 continuing education units.’
      • ‘Continuing education units are available for many of the classes.’
      • ‘Discover more about springboard materials, booster lessons, and view summer numeracy schools' units of work.’
      • ‘After a few months, all units in refresher courses will also be available.’
      • ‘Poems may be studied in an integrated curriculum or in separate units of study.’
      • ‘At several of the sites, teachers within grade levels developed thematic units on which both bilingual and regular classroom students worked.’
      • ‘Teachers spend approximately eight weeks teaching lessons from these units.’
      • ‘Does the book help meet curricular objectives or enhance the thematic units being studied?’
      • ‘Continuing education units are awarded for their completion.’
      • ‘At other times, specialists chose units of study already imbedded in their curriculums.’
      • ‘Students brainstorm words they know that are related to their unit of study and that begin with the different letters of the alphabet.’
      • ‘The school exerted pressure on Ms. Stacey to complete a certain number of mathematics units before the school year was over.’
      • ‘Continuing education units were granted after completion of each unit assessment.’
      • ‘With access to this website you have hundreds of Internet links that correspond to your units being studied.’
    7. 1.7 An item manufactured.
      [as modifier] ‘unit cost’
      • ‘With unit costs down, companies don't have to squeeze pay as much as they have in past periods of weakness.’
      • ‘The third alternative is to produce a commodity at a lower unit cost than anyone else can.’
      • ‘At one point, the number reached as high as 100,000 units, representing about $600 million in finished inventory.’
      • ‘This may be one of the greatest films ever made, but if you can't generate the kind of awareness you need to sell a number of units, your budget's going to be pretty tight.’
      • ‘The unit cost for manufacturing any current intraocular lens probably does not exceed £10 anywhere.’
      • ‘It is the professed goal of these international firms to obtain the lowest unit production costs on a worldwide basis.’
      • ‘That's because falling unit costs increase the profit margin on each good or service sold.’
      • ‘Rather, they should ignore the money they've already spent, and set their prices to sell the number of units that gets them the greatest profit.’
      • ‘Rising car sales spread those high costs over more units, but battery manufacturing capacity is still constrained.’
      • ‘In many industries, economies of scale are available to firms, so that as they grow bigger, their unit costs fall.’
      • ‘I wanted a quality product, more than I wanted to shift large numbers of units.’
      • ‘Second, the price of anything that can be manufactured in a silicon fabrication plant will plummet as the number of units shipped increases.’
      • ‘Relying too much on markets for either input supplies or sales outlets places the low unit cost of production that comes with economies of scale at risk.’
      • ‘Doubling the size of a factory does not necessarily double the costs of production, so the unit cost of production falls.’
      • ‘Though the cups have to be heated properly before sale, it again could make its unit cost price shoot up.’
      • ‘It has been brought to my attention that gold certifications are based on the number of units shipped, not sold.’
      • ‘Beth's priority is the quality of her song-writing as opposed to the number of units sold.’
      • ‘The bigger the centrifuge, the larger the capacity - you get more output per machine and cut your unit cost.’
      • ‘He paid, but called me later and said the per unit cost didn't work out to what he thought.’
      • ‘This was designed to cut the high unit cost of producing milk during the four off season months when production is about one tenth of the peak summer volume.’
    8. 1.8US A police car.
      ‘he eased into his unit and flicked the siren on’
  • 2A quantity chosen as a standard in terms of which other quantities may be expressed.

    ‘a unit of measurement’
    ‘fifty units of electricity’
    • ‘The first three approaches quantify value in monetary units.’
    • ‘Poker chips are recommended, with the white chips representing 5 units, the reds 20, and the blues 1000.’
    • ‘Values are given in units per minute per milligram of protein and represent the results of at least three separate experiments with standard errors shown.’
    • ‘Meters and kilometers are the units of measurement used throughout this book.’
    • ‘The kilogram is the only one of the seven basic units of the international measurement system defined by a physical artifact rather than a natural phenomenon.’
    • ‘Degrees of acidity are expressed scientifically in terms of ph units, lower values indicating greater acidity.’
    • ‘The 42-gallon barrel is still a standard unit of measurement in the oil industry, though.’
    • ‘This is the antilog in terms of the original unit of measurement that defines the 50th percentile.’
    • ‘Remember that frequency has units of radians per second.’
    • ‘It is common to quantify changes in response to the intensity of selection in terms of units of standard deviation.’
    • ‘The mean difference is expressed in terms of standard deviation units.’
    • ‘By using standard units of measurement on every project and by keeping close records of other material cost quotes, you may not even need to ask suppliers for prices.’
    • ‘The quotation documents were drafted using the quantities and units of measurement we estimated earlier.’
    • ‘This is a standard unit for measuring particle physics energy scales.’
    • ‘Equally of interest at the exhibition are the charts listing the different quantities and units used for weights and measures in this land.’
    • ‘Great video clips help children solve problems, including using non - standard units of measurement to weigh whales and dolphins.’
    • ‘Standard decimal units of length were established in China around 200 BC and later further subdivisions occurred.’
    • ‘In Table 1, these data are expressed in measurement units per kilogram of body weight.’
    • ‘Measurement of prices would be adjusted for changes in terms of such discrete units of computer power or memory.’
    • ‘Particle physicists measure energy in units of electron volts.’
    quantity, measure, measurement, denomination, value
    View synonyms
  • 3The number one.

    1. 3.1units The digit before the decimal point in decimal notation, representing an integer less than ten.
      • ‘In writing down the score, all scores are divided by 10 with fractions rounded down (i.e. the units digit is omitted).’
      • ‘When writing an integer in decimal we use, essentially, a units column, a tens column, a hundreds column, a thousands column, and so on.’
      • ‘The Romans represented units, tens, hundreds, and thousands as separate items in their numbers.’
      • ‘The number of pips showing on the ten are the units digit of the score, and the total number of pips showing on the Jack and Queen (which may be face up or face down) are the tens digit.’
      • ‘In words, what we want is to chop off the units digit, multiply it by something suitable, then either add it to or subtract it from our truncated number.’


Late 16th century (as a mathematical term): from Latin unus, probably suggested by digit.