1. In commerce, a contribution to a general loss. When for the safety of a ship in distress, any destruction of property is incurred, either by cutting away the masts, throwing goods overboard, or other means, all persons who have goods on board, or property in the ship, contribute to the loss according to their average that is, the goods of each on board. This principle, introduced into the commerce of Europe, from the Rhodian laws, and recognized by the regulations of Wisby, is now an established rule in the maritime laws of Europe; for it is most reasonable, that when one man's property is sacrificed to save a ship, all persons whose property is saved, or in like hazard, should bear their proportion of the loss.
2. From the practice of contributing to bear losses, in proportion to each man's property, this word has obtained the present popular sense, which is, that of a mean proportion, medial sum or quantity, made out of unequal sums or quantities. Thus, if A loses 5 dollars, B 9 and C 16, the sum is 30, and the average 10.
3. A small duty payable by the shippers of goods, to the master of the ship, over and above the freight, for his care of the goods.
Hence the expression in bills of lading, 'paying so much freight with primage and average accustomed.'
4. In England, the breaking up of cornfields, eddish or roughings.
Upon, or on an average is taking the mean of unequal numbers or quantities.
AV'ERAGE, adjective Medial; containing a mean proportion.
AV'ERAGE, verb transitive To find the mean of unequal sums or quantities; to reduce to a medium; to divide among a number, according to a given proportion; as, to average a loss.
AV'ERAGE, verb intransitive To form a mean or medial sum or quantity; as, the losses of the owners will average 25 dollars each.
These spars average 10 feet in length.