percent or per cent [per-sent] Word Origin noun

  1. Also called per centum. one one-hundredth part; 1/100.
  2. percentage(defs 1, 3).
  3. British. stocks, bonds, etc., that bear an indicated rate of interest.


  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, adjectiveCan 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. 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 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.

per cent in Science percent

  1. One part in a hundred. For example, 62 percent (also written 62%) means 62 parts out of 100.

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%.

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