This might not be the right stack exchange for this, but I bought a pack of generic 48 alkaline AA batteries, Costco brand (they're probably manufactured by Duracell since that's the only other brand Costco seemed to carry), and they called them "Battery Piles." I know that one of the first voltage sources, by Alessandro Volta, was called a voltaic pile, but I was under the impression that modern batteries use a different chemical mechanism for power delivery, and my research into this topic seems to back this up.

So why are these batteries called "Battery Piles"? Is this a marketer's attempt to avoid IP infringement, or is there a new mechanism that they use for batteries?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "Piles" = Batteries in French : maybe Costco also sell them in Quebec? \$\endgroup\$
    – user16324
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 21:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BrianDrummond you beat me to it by 27 secs..... \$\endgroup\$
    – Jay Greco
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 21:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BrianDrummond I think you're right; I thought the box was half in Spanish, because that's what I'm used to seeing, and dismissed it since I don't know Spanish, but I think it is in French, and it looks like they're exported to Quebec and to the UK,and possibly other countries. I split the box with someone else, right down the middle, so I only have half of it. \$\endgroup\$
    – jfa
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 22:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Pile should not be used in English to denote a battery that has only one cell, not multiple cells in series. It literally means "pile", as in "stack", "pillar". A combined English-French product label should be "Battery" "Pile"; it doesn't make sense to have the English be singular, and pluralize the French. "Battery pile" is redundant; the word "battery" already suggests the aggregation of multiple smaller units. If there is one cell, then both words like if taken literally, except that "battery" no longer has the meaning "aggregate of cells or capacitors". \$\endgroup\$
    – Kaz
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kaz someone posted a picture. It looks like I misread it. It indeed says "Batteries" then under that to the right it says "Piles". \$\endgroup\$
    – jfa
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 4:42

2 Answers 2


The packaging:

Kirkland Batteries

Shows the product type "Alkaline" in small print twice ("alcalines") and the product "Battery" in large print twice ("Piles").

The second form is in French, making the product bi-lingual for less expensive multi-regional marketing.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You're right; I misinterpreted as one phrase. \$\endgroup\$
    – jfa
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 22:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ And kind of shows the silliness inherent in multi-language packaging laws. At least a "pile of something" isn't particularly offensive to an English speaker... \$\endgroup\$
    – RBerteig
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 22:47
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @RBerteig Unless you're old-fashioned enough to still interpret "piles" as a synonym for hemorrhoids. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ooh, I forgot about that one... sometimes also pimples too I think. \$\endgroup\$
    – RBerteig
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 0:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice labeling there. If they had used one typeface/color combination for both English words and a different one for both French words, things would have been much clearer. \$\endgroup\$
    – supercat
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 0:34

"Pile" is the French term for "Battery". You'll see "Pile Alcaline" on most batteries these days; It simply means Alkaline Battery in French. I'm currently looking at a Duracell with it.


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