Word of the Day


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an amp used for measuring electricity

Origin and usage

The term ampere comes from the French word ‘ampère’, a measure of electricity meaning ‘the current that a volt can send through one ohm of resistance’. The word is derived from the name of the French physicist who discovered this principle in 1881: André-Marie Ampère. The common shortened form of the word ampere is ‘amp’ and dates back to 1886.


Ampere is a principle of physics that is used as a way to measure the strength of an electrical current. This measurement is employed both by scientists and technology workers in many different fields today, but it was first discovered by a French physicist in the late 19th century.

André-Marie Ampère was born in Lyon, France in 1775 to a wealthy family during the height of what historians call the French Enlightenment. This was a period of learning and curiosity about the world that led to many significant developments in politics, the arts and philosophy. Ampère’s father was a prosperous merchant and a great supporter of non-traditional education. This meant that the young Ampère was free to explore the world around him, learning mostly from his father’s extensive collection of intellectual and academic books.

Ampère began his career in 1799 as a teacher of mathematics and worked at several schools and universities across France, eventually accepting a prestigious position in experimental physics at the Collège de France in 1824. It was during those years that Ampère completed the groundbreaking research that would become the foundation of his legacy and would lead to an 1881 declaration by an international convention establishing the ampere as a standard unit of measurement of electricity.


View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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