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A cubic centimetre (or cubic centimeter in US English) (symbol cm3 — the abbreviation cc, though widely used, is deprecated[1]) is a commonly used unit of volume extending the derived SI-unit cubic metre, and corresponds to the volume of a cube measuring 1 cm × 1 cm × 1 cm. One cubic centimetre corresponds to a volume of 11,000,000 of a cubic metre, or 11000 of a litre, or one millilitre; thus, 1 cm3 ≡ 1 mL. The mass of one cubic centimetre of water at 3.98 °C (the temperature at which it attains its maximal density) is roughly equal to 1 gram.

In many scientific fields, the use of cubic centimetres has been replaced by the millilitre. The medical and automotive fields are two of the few fields wherein the term cubic centimetre was never discontinued in the United States. Much of the automotive industry outside the U.S. has switched to using litres instead of cubic centimetres. In the United Kingdom, millilitres are used in preference to cubic centimetres in the medical field, but not the automotive. Most other English-speaking countries follow the UK example, but the use of cubic centimetres persists everywhere, especially in the automotive field.

There is currently a movement within the medical field to discontinue the use of cc in prescriptions and on medical documents as it can be mis-read as "00" if poor handwriting is used, which can result in a massive, even lethal, overdose of medication.[citation needed] In the United States, confusion resulting from using "cc" instead of "mL" accounts for 12.6% of all errors associated with medical abbreviations.[2]

In automobile engines, "cc" refers to the volume of air and fuel mixture intake in a cylinder bore. For example if the vehicle engine size is stated as 2300 cc's, that would equate to 2.3L engine size (since 1000cc = 1L)


  1. ^ "Bureau International des Poids et Mesures". 2006. p. 130. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  2. ^ Brunetti, Luigi; Santell, John; Hicks, Rodney (September 2007), Stevenson, James, ed., "The Impact of Abbreviations on Patient Safety" (PDF), The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety 33 (9): 8, 

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