How Many Butts in a Buttload?

You've probably heard of the very precise, scientific unit of measure called the "buttload." Usages might include, "I'd love to hang out, but I have a buttload of homework tonight." Or, "I cleaned out my closets and dropped off a buttload of clothes at the thrift store.” But where did this particular butt-based unit of measure come from? Actually, it’s an old unit first used in medieval times. A butt is a cask that holds liquids, like a barrel. It could contain anywhere from 108 to 140 gallons. Some people say “buttload” is confused with the term “boatload,” which originally was a term to identify how many people a boat could hold at one time. Since medieval times is considered 476 A.D. to 1450, the time during which “buttload” first appeared, and the term “boatload” first showed up in 1625, it’s unlikely that “buttload” is being confused for “boatload."