gross
January 16, 2017 11:28 AM   Subscribe

A dozen is 12. A "baker's dozen" is 13. In The Fatal Shore, a "dozen" of 40 lashes is mentioned. What other kinds of dozens are there?
posted by the man of twists and turns to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Dozens?
posted by Rhaomi at 11:33 AM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm asking about groups of numbers or items counted in groups.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:46 AM on January 16, 2017


A gross? (144, or a dozen dozens)
posted by basalganglia at 11:49 AM on January 16, 2017


I'm not sure if this is what you're asking, but other units of amount include: mole, googol, googolplex, and score.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 11:50 AM on January 16, 2017


He is asking if any other numbers of things besides twelve are referred to as 'a dozen.'
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:51 AM on January 16, 2017 [10 favorites]


2 can be a couple, a brace, or a pair.
posted by mochapickle at 11:51 AM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


A banker's dozen is 11.
posted by jeather at 11:55 AM on January 16, 2017 [10 favorites]


I think the example in your post might have referred to 40x12 lashes, rather than being a novel use of the word "dozen." If you google "dozen of lashes" (as opposed to "dozens of lashes") it seems like this was the standard unit of measurement for lashes (as in "three dozen of lashes").
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:56 AM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Donald Westlake wrote a collection of 11 short stories about a burglar, and called it "Thieves' Dozen" but I don't know if he coined the term.
posted by The otter lady at 11:56 AM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


from the OED:


c. With qualifying words. baker's dozen (see baker's dozen n. at baker n. Compounds), devil's dozen, long dozen (see long dozen n. at long adj.1 and n.1 Special uses 4a), printer's dozen: thirteen. brown dozen (obs.) or round dozen: a full dozen. thirteen, (etc.) to the dozen: see quots. to talk nineteen to the dozen: to talk very fast, or to excess.


A long dozen is 13. Most others also seem to resolve to 13.

I also agree that 40 lashes is not a dozen but a mistake.
posted by vacapinta at 11:57 AM on January 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


I think the example in your post might have referred to 40x12 lashes, rather than being a novel use of the word "dozen."

It was called something like "a Norfolk Island dozen, i.e. forty."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:01 PM on January 16, 2017


Oh! I just found this, from an article about The Fatal Shore, is this what you were thinking of:

[The author] describes Foveaux as one of those “who believe in the lash more than the Bible”. As Hughes states, “25 lashes (known as a tester or a Botany Bay dozen) was a draconic torture, able to skin a man's back and leave it a tangled web of criss-crossed knotted scars.

So this is it! In naval discipline, the typical number of lashes in a 'unit' was twelve, and was referred to as 'a dozen of lashes.' But with a particularly cruel captain, he'd give you a lot more than that, and it would still be ironically referred to as a 'dozen'.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:06 PM on January 16, 2017 [9 favorites]


A Scottish guy I used to work with once brought a box of a dozen to the office one morning. When someone pointed out that one had already been eaten, he said "Aye, that's a Scottish dozen."
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 12:15 PM on January 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


Looks like you got your answer about the Fatal Shore usage. But for completeness, the etymology for dozen is essentially "twelve". Or more specifically the Latin duodĕcim, which is basically "two and ten".
posted by Nelson at 2:13 PM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


Or more specifically the Latin duodĕcim, which is basically "two and ten".

Apparently there's also old instances of corrupt usage because of the Anglo-Norman dizeyne or French dixaine which is a group of 10. The OED cites:

1624 Termes de la Ley at Deciner, Deciner is not now used for the chiefe man of a Dozein, but for him that is sworne, to the Kings peace.
posted by vacapinta at 4:42 AM on January 17, 2017


For completeness (and for the literal-minded among us), there is Dozen, Nakagawa, Chikushi District, Fukuoka Prefecture 811-1254, Japan.
posted by ubiquity at 8:50 AM on January 17, 2017


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