I've been looking in the go-ethereum code (where it appears 24(!) times, mostly in comments) and around, I can't find any reference for Ether having any signification rather than a naming convention.

While it is mentioned in the docs (and in a nomenclature file) that 1 wei = 10^-18 Ether, it seems that the opposite is the real definition, 1 Ether being defined as 10^18 wei since calculations are always made in wei. And indeed while working with Ethereum all units are defined in wei unless some explicit number casting is done.

So, is Ether just a naming convention, easy to remember and convenient considering the market value, or has it a concrete meaning?

1 Answer 1


Ether is 10^18 Wei in the way that dollar is 10^2 pennies.

Ether is official, afaik, and can be thought of as having 18 decimal places of divisibility.

Possibly helpful: https://steemit.com/cryptocurrency/@encryptcy/ethereum-denominations

Hope it helps.

  • I could argue that things are denominated in dollars, and accept decimal numbers, whereas in the Ethereum code everything is denominated in Wei. From a computer perspective, it's not the same if data type is a int or double or int64, or if it's a decimal. My point is that in the code Ether != 1 base_type, but 10^18 base_type. I know I'm splitting hair, but that's the question :) Oct 23, 2018 at 9:09

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