A unit of dynamic viscosity in the CGS system, a hundredth of a poise. 1 centipoise = 1 millipascal-second. See this table for examples of the viscosities of some common liquids, in millipascal-seconds.
Many reliable authorities (e.g., McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms) say the abbreviation for centipoise is “cp” (which unfortunately is also an abbreviation for candlepower, although the two units occur in such different contexts that that should not be a problem).
On the other hand, Resolution 7 of the 9th CGPM (1948; CR, 70) gives the symbol P for the poise, and so does the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics' Document U.I.P. 11 (S.U.N. 65-3). As a symbol, the capital letter P is consistent with SI usage, since the P comes from a man's name. Applying other SI rules for the decimal prefixes makes the symbol for the centipoise “cP”.
The symbol “Po” for the poise is sometimes encountered. It and “cPo” can be regarded as incorrect, at least at the present time.
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Last revised: 3 May 2018.