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The litre (or liter – see spelling differences) is a unit of volume. There are two official symbols: the Latin letter L in lower and upper case (l and L; the recommended symbol for the unit in the United States is L).[1] The lower case L is also often written as a cursive , though this symbol has no official approval by any international bureau. Although the litre is not an SI unit, it is accepted for use with the SI,[2] and has appeared in several versions of the metric system. The official SI unit of volume is the cubic metre (m3). One litre is equal to 1/1,000 cubic metre, equivalent to 1 cubic decimetre (dm3).

The word litre is derived from an older French unit, the litron, whose name came from Greek via Latin. The original French metric system used the litre as a base unit.

The spelling of the word used by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures is "litre".[2] This spelling is also the usual one in English in most English-speaking countries, but the most common American English spelling is "liter", which is officially endorsed by the United States.[3]



A litre is defined as a special name for a cubic decimetre (1 L ≡ 1 dm3). Hence 1 L ≡ 0.001 m3 ≡ 1000 cm3, and 1000 L ≡ 1 m3 (exactly).

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