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How did the electrical term volt originate?

Find out what the volt measures in physics, and where it got its name.

Voltage measures force. [© Shutterstock Images, 2010]
© Shutterstock Images, 2010
Voltage measures force.

The unit of voltage is the volt, named after Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), the Italian scientist who built the first battery.

Voltage measures the force or "oomph" with which electrical charges are pushed through a material.

Some common voltages are 1.5 volts for a flashlight battery; 12 volts for a car battery; 115 volts for ordinary household receptacles, and 230 volts for a heavy-duty household receptacle.

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