Difference Between Celsius And Centigrade

Celsius and Centigrade sound like different names for the same temperature measurement, but in fact they are slightly different. While they measure the same thing, they do have some important differences. This article will discuss what makes Celsius and Centigrade different.

Origin of the Names

The Celsius scale, also known as centigrade, was developed by the Swedish astronomer, Anders Celsius. He proposed the scale in 1742, and he divided the scale into 100 units between the freezing and boiling point of water. That 100 unit division equates to the measurement we know today as one degree Celsius.

The Centigrade scale was later popularized by the French mathematician, Jean Pierre Christin. He renamed Celsius’ scale to Centigrade because it was more precise than simply referring to the measurement as “Celsius.” The prefix “centi” comes from the Latin for one-hundredth.

Experimenting with Heat

At the time of their creation, Temperature measurements were based more on experimentation than on observation. Celsius used a thermometer to take readings and make calculations based on the expansion and compaction of the liquid in the thermometer.

The Centigrade scale continued to refine those experiments, dividing them into even smaller increments. They created several different sizes of scales and other measuring instruments to improve the accuracy of their readings.

The Scale Difference

The major difference between Celsius and Centigrade is that the Celsius scale starts with zero at the melting point of ice, while the Centigrade zero is at the melting point of water. This slight difference means that water freezes at 0°C (Celsius), or 0°C (Centigrade).

The other major difference is the unit of measurement. Celsius measures temperature in units of degrees Celsius (°C), and Centigrade measures temperature in units of degrees Centigrade (°C). The size of each degree of temperature measurement is the same in both scales.

Signs Used in Each Scale

The Celsius scale typically uses the degree symbol “°” to indicate the number of degrees Celsius. Commonly it will also be written as “Celsius”, abbreviated as “C”. Meanwhile, the Centigrade scale typically uses the degree symbol “°” to indicate the number of degrees Centigrade. It is sometimes written as “Centigrade” and abbreviated as “C”.

It is important to note that the degree symbol is used with both scales, even though Celsius uses the “°C” sign and Centigrade the “°C” sign. This is important to remember when converting temperatures between the two scales, since the number of degrees remains unchanged when converting.

Temperature Conversions

When converting between Celsius and Centigrade, the difference in their zero points must be accounted for. To convert from Celsius to Centigrade, subtract 32 from the Celsius temperature and then add the two together. For example, a Celsius temperature of 20°C will equal 52°C (Centigrade).

To convert from Centigrade to Celsius, subtract the Centigrade temperature from 32 and then add the two together. For example, a Centigrade temperature of 52°C will equal 20°C (Celsius).

Temperature Scales in Other Countries

The Celsius and Centigrade scales are both used in different countries around the world, however the Celsius scale is more widely used. Most Western countries, including the United States, use the Celsius scale. Other countries, like England and Finland, use the Centigrade scale.

Many countries that use the Celsius scale have their own form of it, such as the Fahrenheit scale in the United States and the Kelvin scale in France. These variations make it important to be aware of the temperature measurement system used in your region before making temperature conversions.

Rounding Rules

When converting temperatures between Celsius and Centigrade, the following rounding rules should be applied. The Celsius temperature should be rounded to the nearest tenth of a degree and the Centigrade temperature should be rounded to the nearest hundredth of a degree. This ensures accuracy in a temperature conversion.

It is also important to remember that temperature conversion can never be exact, due to the differences in the temperature scales. Therefore, temperature conversions should only be used as a rough guide.


Celsius and Centigrade are two related temperature scales that measure the same thing but are slightly different. While the major difference between them is the starting point of the scale, there are other distinctions between the two as well. The degree symbol is used for both, although Celsius uses the “°C” sign and Centigrade the “°C” sign., and conversions should be rounded to the nearest tenth of a degree (Celsius) and the hundredth of a degree (Centigrade).

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