Imperial units

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Jump to: navigation, search This article is about the post-1824 measures used in the British Empire and countries in the British sphere of influence. For the units used in England before 1824, see English units. For the system of weight, see Avoirdupois. For United States customary units, see Customary units. Imperial units or the imperial system is a system of units, first defined in the British Weights and Measures Act of 1824, later refined (until 1959) and reduced. The system came into official use across the British Empire. By the late 20th century most nations of the former empire had officially adopted the metric system as their main system of measurement.

The former Weights and Measures office in Seven Sisters, London.

Contents
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1 Relation to other systems 2 Units
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2.1 Length 2.2 Area 2.3 Volume

2.3.1 British apothecaries' volume measures

2.4 Mass 3.1 United Kingdom 3.2 Canada 3.3 Australia 3.4 Republic of Ireland 3.5 Other countries

3 Current use of imperial units
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Because the United States was already independent at the time. The avoirdupois system applies only to weights.• • • 4 See also 5 References 6 External links [edit] Relation to other systems The imperial system is one of many systems of English or foot-pound-second units. nor to post-imperial inventions such as the slug or poundal. it has a long designation and a short designation for the hundredweight and ton. or which had fallen out of use by that time. [edit] Units [edit] Length Imperial standards of length 1876 in Trafalgar Square.9144 metres. Units of length and area are mostly shared between the imperial and US systems. The distinctions between these systems are often not drawn precisely. or for different purposes. Another distinction to be noted is that between these systems and older British/English units/systems or newer additions. One such system is the US customary system. Although most of the units are defined in more than one system. mass and time. some subsidiary units were used to a much greater extent. the US and the British yard have been defined identically to be 0. Before this date. these units were unaffected by the introduction of the imperial system. albeit being partially and temporarily defined differently. the most precise measurement of the Imperial Standard Yard was 0.914398416 metres. which is historically derived from units which were in use in England at the time of settlement. The term imperial should not be applied to English units that were outlawed in the Weights and Measures Act 1824 or earlier. so named because of the base units of length.[citation needed] Metric equivalents in this article usually assume this latest official definition. Since 1959.[1] Table of length equivalent units Unit Relative to previous Feet Millimetres Metres Notes . in one area rather than the other. Capacity measures differ the most due to the introduction of the imperial gallon and the unification of wet and dry measures. London. to match the international yard.

chain 4 poles 66 20. This was despite its being 1⁄1000 of a nautical mile (i.4 304.3048 Defined as exactly 0. chain (Ch) furlong (fur) mile (mi) league (Lea) 11 fathoms 10 chains 8 furlongs 3 miles 66 660 5. It was not readily expressible in terms of any of the intermediate units.025 4 0.08 or 6[2] 1.184 0. 20.280 15. When in use it was approximated colloquially as 100 fathoms.2 5.840 20116.0254 25.029.853. mile Until the adoption of the international definition of 1852 metres in 1970.1168 1⁄10 furlong . because it was derived from the circumference of the Earth (like the original metre).168 1.e.080 1.853184 conflict was inconsequential as Admiralty nautical charts designated depths shallower than 5 fathoms in feet on older imperial charts. Today all charts worldwide are metric. 6.08 feet) until the adoption of the international nautical mile.9144 metres 0.344 4.000 025 25. The 1. nautical 10 cables 6.9144 since 1959 The British Admiralty in practice used a fathom as 6 feet. except for USA Hydrographic Office charts. which use feet for all depth ranges.3184 One tenth of a nautical mile. Gunter's survey units (17th century onwards) 66 link ⁄100 201.828.609.4 ⁄12 1 3 fathom 2 yards (ftm) 6.168 0.184 Used to measure distances at sea. the British nautical (Admiralty) mile was defined as 6.4 μm 4 0.853.8 914.032 No longer an official unit in any nation.8 Maritime units cable ~100 fathoms 608 185.92 inches 66 rod 25 links ⁄4 5.0292 The rod is also called pole or perch. The commonly accepted definition of a fathom was always 6 feet.thou (th) inch (in) 1000 thous foot (ft) 12 inches yard 3 feet (yd) 1 ⁄12000 1 0.1168 201.080 feet.201168 7.

09 277.[6] Table of volume units Unit Imperial ounce Imperial pint Millilitres Cubic inches US ounces US pints fluid ounce 1 1 ⁄20 28.[4][5] [edit] Volume In 1824.72 9. [edit] British apothecaries' volume measures Table of British apothecaries' volume units[7] Unit Previous Unit Metric Value minim .545096 l.42 153.5516328 mL .011.0653125 8.25 1 1 ⁄102400 1 furlong × 1 10.30024 pint (pt) 20 1 568.1938802 µL fluid scruple 20 minims 1.5225 69.677 19.046.[edit] Area Area Relation Square Square Square Unit to units of Square metres Hectares feet rods miles length Notes perch 1 rod × 1 rod 272.29285264 0. the United Kingdom adopted a close approximation to the ale gallon known as the imperial gallon. The Weights and Measures Act of 1985 switched to a gallon of exactly 4.26125 34. This works out to 4.7339 0. rood Although the proper term is square rod. The imperial gallon was based on the volume of 10 lb of distilled water weighed in air with brass weights with the barometer standing at 30 in Hg at a temperature of 62 °F.8564224 0.7141056 0.4130625 1.136 g/ml.4 cu in).420 cu in.430 2.4047 1 chain Note: All equivalences are exact except the hectares.. for centuries this unit has 25. 59.2009 quart (qt) 40 2 1. which are accurate to four significant figures.8038 0. The rood is also called a 1.060047 (fl oz) 1 gill (gi) 5 ⁄4 142.998859 g/ml weighed in air of density 0.1838776 mL fluid drachm 3 fluid scruples 3.001217 g/ml against weights of density 8.1012 rod.54609 l (approximately 277.546.355 38.890 40 ⁄2560 1 rod[3] 1 furlong × 1 acre 43. In 1963 this definition was refined as the space occupied by 10 lb of distilled water of density 0. or 277.136.4019 gallon (gal) 160 8 4.6694 4.002529 been called a pole or perch or.96076 0.560 160 ⁄640 4. more properly square pole or square perch.215 1.6076 Note: The millilitre equivalences are exact whereas the conversions to cubic-inch and US measures are correct to five significant figures..

Table of mass units Unit Pounds Grams Kilograms Notes 1 grain (gr) ⁄7000 0.fluid ounce 8 fluid drachms 28. hundredweight 112 50. and all other units are defined as fractions or multiples of it. and apothecaries' weight.349523125 Exactly 453. A person's weight is often quoted in stone and pounds in English-speaking countries using the avoirdupois stone (st) 14 6.59237 0. ton (t) 2240 1.79891 milligrams.06479891 Exactly 64.4130625 mL pint 20 fluid ounces 568.350. where it is usually quoted in pounds. A "quarter" was also commonly used quarter (qtr) 28 12.18474 kg). used for most other purposes.016. Each is divided into 20 hundredweights (cwt). which is very close to a metric tonne. making the Avoirdupois pound the primary unit of mass with only the troy ounce (31.35029318 system.29318 6. The British ton (the long ton) is 2240 pounds. however.54609 L [edit] Mass In the 19th and 20th centuries the UK has used three different systems for mass and weight:[8] • • • troy weight.7718451953125 1 ounce (oz) ⁄16 28. now virtually unused since the metric system is used for all scientific purposes.59237 grams by pound (lb) 1 453. [edit] Current use of imperial units . avoirdupois weight. the fundamental unit is the pound.26125 mL gallon 8 pints 4. the British hundredweight of 112 pounds being 12% heavier than the American hundredweight of 100 pounds. its use was abolished in the UK on 6 January 1879. whereas the ton generally used in the United States is the "short ton" of 2000 pounds (907.1034768 g) and its decimal subdivisions retained. The troy pound (373.80234544 (cwt) 20 hundredweights in both systems. In all the systems.45359237 definition. with the exception of the United States and Canada. used for precious metals.70058636 to refer to a quarter of a pound in a retail context. 1 drachm (drc) ⁄256 1.0469088 US hundredweight being lighter.2417216 g) was made the primary unit of mass by the 1824 Act.

imperial (UK). these regulations have never placed any obstacle in the way of using imperial units alongside metric units. This has now been proven in court against the so-called "Metric Martyrs". and also feet and inches. length and width (but not weight) restrictions must be in feet and inches on road signs (although an equivalent in metres may be shown as well)[11].[9] The United Kingdom completed its legal transition to SI units in 1995.A baby bottle that measures in three measurement systems—metric. The EU's deadline of 31 December 2009 to enforce metric-only labels and ban any supplementary indicators (imperial measurements) on goods after the deadline has been abolished. and road speed limits must be in miles per hour[11]. Almost all traders in the UK will accept requests from customers specified in imperial units. The railways are also a big user of imperial units. Foreign vehicles. Contrary to the impression given by some press reports. such as all post-2005 Irish vehicles. The Units of Measurement Regulations 1995 require that all measuring devices used in trade or retail be capable of measuring and displaying metric quantities. and speeds are in miles per hour. use of Imperial unit is widespread in many cases. The metric system is in official use within the United Kingdom. and US customary. the troy ounce still may be used for the weight of precious stones and metals. Metric price signs may currently be accompanied by imperial price signs (known as supplementary indicators) provided that the imperial signs are no larger and no more prominent than the official metric ones. a small group of market traders who insisted on trading in imperial units only. but many imperial units are still in official use: draught beer must be sold in pints[10]. [edit] United Kingdom Main article: Metrication in the United Kingdom British law now defines each imperial unit in terms of the metric equivalent. On 9 May 2007 the European Commission agreed to allow supplementary indications alongside the statutory metric indications beyond 2009. with distances officially measured in miles and yards or miles and chains. road-sign distances must be in yards and miles[11]. may legally have instruments displayed only in kilometres per hour. therefore instruments in vehicles sold in the UK must be capable of displaying miles per hour. Even though the troy pound was outlawed in the UK in the Weights and Measures Act of 1878. and scales which display in both unit systems are commonplace in the retail trade. although many modern metro and tram systems are . however.

are sometimes referred to as Imperial. and London Underground uses both metric (for distances) and imperial (for speeds). some radio stations near the United States border (such as CIMX and CIDR) primarily use imperial units to report the weather. almost any agency. Although drivers' licences in some provinces like British Columbia. Adjacent to Ashford International railway station and Dollands Moor Freight Yard. Most people still measure their weight in stone and pounds.[13][14][15][16] The law requires that measured products (such as fuel and meat) be priced in metric units.[18] Environment Canada still offers an imperial unit option beside metric units. momentum to fully convert to the metric system stalled when the government of Brian Mulroney was elected. However. but many British people still use imperial units in colloquial discussion of distance (yards. Imperial units were eliminated from all road signs. but the birth weight and length is usually announced to family and friends in imperial units. despite having been sold exclusively in litres for two decades. railway speeds are given in both metric and imperial units. Threads on non metric nuts and bolts etc. Likewise. fuel consumption for cars is still usually in miles per gallon. and carpet or flooring tile is purchased by the . such as the height warnings at the entrance of a multistorey parking facility. whereas hogs are sold in dollars per hundred kilograms. this accounts for imperial units of distance and area retaining wide use in the Prairie Provinces. Manitoba. there tends to be leniency in regards to fruits and vegetables being priced in imperial units only. even though weather is typically measured and reported in metric units in the Canadian media. condominiums and houses continues to be described in square feet rather than square metres. feet and inches). or function provided by the government uses SI units exclusively. cattle are sold in dollars per hundredweight (short). Imperial units are still used in ordinary conversation. Land is now surveyed and registered in metric units. Petrol is occasionally quoted as being so much per gallon. Imperial units still dominate in recipes. [edit] Canada Main article: Canadian units See also: Metrication in Canada In the 1970s the metric system and SI units were introduced in Canada to replace the imperial system. though this is becoming rare. other provinces like Saskatchewan use imperial units. especially in the UK.[citation needed] Metric is also used for the Channel Tunnel and on High Speed 1. Alberta. construction. although both systems of measurement will still be found on privately owned signs. The use of SI units is mandated by law for the retail sale of food and other commodities except beer. although an imperial price can be shown if a metric price is present. Few older Canadians would exclusively use SI units to describe their weight and height. though official figures always include litres per 100 km equivalents. partitioning of farm land on the prairies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was done in imperial units. although initial surveys used imperial units. Fahrenheit equivalents are occasionally given after Celsius in weather forecasts. Within the government. For example. In the 1980s.[19] In livestock auction markets.entirely metric. The size of most apartments. There was heavy opposition to metrication and as a compromise the government maintains legal definitions for and allows use of imperial units as long as metric units are shown as well.. and height in feet and inches (but these must be converted to metric if recorded officially. efforts to implement the metric system were extensive. weight (especially stones and pounds) and volume (gallons & pints). newborns are measured in SI at hospitals. Quebec. for example in medical records). and Newfoundland and Labrador use SI units.[12] Milk is available in both half-litre and pint containers. although often informally.[17][18] However. house renovation and gardening. Ontario. institution.

Motor-vehicle fuel consumption is reported in both litres per 100 km and statute miles per imperial gallon. but sometimes a newborn baby's weight may be quoted in pounds. even when the cartridge is of relatively recent invention (e. inches.[23] [edit] Republic of Ireland Main article: Metrication in Ireland The Republic of Ireland has officially changed over to the metric system since entering the European Union. As in most of the western world. The United Arab Emirates Cabinet in 2009 issued the Decree No. The imperial system is still often used in everyday conversation. The majority of cars sold pre-2005 feature speedometers with miles per hour. especially for a person's height. Most weight is in kilograms.g. where the calibre is expressed in decimal fractions of an inch). Many of their names remain unchanged even after the adoption of the metric system for distance in the country. [edit] Australia Main article: Metrication in Australia In Australia. air navigation is based on nautical units. 0. while some surf reports are given in feet.17 HMR.g. bullet and powder weights are expressed in terms of grains for both metric and imperial cartridges.for sales of beer in pubs (traditionally sold by the pint). (Neither country specifies which gallon is used. The imperial system remains in limited use . [edit] Other countries Some imperial measurements remain in limited use in India. Imperial measures are still used in the description of cartridge types. 9 mm). imperial measurements are still encountered in either spoken or written form. Sierra Leone and the United Arab Emirates. ammunition which is classified in metric already is still kept metric (e. Grenada. although old quantities are retained for some goods like butter. Real estate agents continue to use acres and square feet to describe area in conjunction with hectares and square metres.. However. which is neither imperial nor metric.[20] leading to the erroneous impression that Canadian vehicles are 20% more fuel-efficient than their apparently identical American counterparts for which fuel economy is reported in statute miles per U. yards and degrees Fahrenheit are often used in conjunction with their metric counterparts. while area is measured in acres exclusively (hectares are only used in government documents). which is sold in 454-gram (1 lb) packaging.204 Ruger. 0. especially in the terms of height and weight. are frequently met in conversation and non-governmental publications. the nautical mile.. (270 / 3) specifying that from 1 January 2010 the new unit sale price for .S.g. particularly by the older generation. All other goods are required by law to be sold in metric units. gallon. Belize. Petrol is still sold by the imperial gallon in Antigua and Barbuda. batu enam means "6th mile" or "mile 6"). Guyana.[24] Towns and villages in Malaysia with no proper names had adopted the Malay word batu (meaning "rock") to indicate their locations along a main road before the use of metric system (for example. Burma. and rural land areas are sometimes referred to in acres. feet.[22] Australian beer glass sizes are based on older imperial sizes but rounded to the nearest 5 ml.) Imperial units also retain common use in firearms and ammunition. [21] . In the manufacture of ammunition. with distances on new road signs being metric since 1977 and speed limits being metric since 2005.. e. In India. Malaysia and Hong Kong.[citation needed] Measurements in feet and inches.square foot.

petrol will be the litre and not the gallon.[25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34] . This in line with the UAE Cabinet Decision No. which mandates the use of International System of units (SI) as a basis for the legal units of measurement in the country. 31 of 2006 on the national system of measurement.