Gill (unit)

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Copper gill-measuring jugs

The gill (pronounced[1] /ˈɪl/ (About this sound listen)) or teacup is a unit of measurement for volume equal to a quarter of a pint.[2] It is no longer in common use, except in regard to the volume of alcoholic spirits measures.

In imperial units
1 imperial gill ≡ 5 imperial fluid ounces
≡ ​132 imperial gallon
≡ ​14 imperial pint
≡ 142.0653125 ml[3]
≈ 142 ml
≈ 1.2 US gills
In United States customary units
1 US gill ≡ 4 US fl oz
≡ ​132 US gallon
≡ ​14 US pint
≡ ​12 US cup
≡ 8 tablespoons
≡ 24 teaspoons
≡ 32 US fluid drams
≡ 7​732 in3
≡ 118.29411825 ml[4]
≈ 118 ml
≈ ​56 imperial gills

In Great Britain, the standard single measure of spirits in a pub was ​16 gill (23.7 ml) in England, and ​15 gill (28.4 ml) in Scotland; after metrication this was replaced by either 25 or 35 ml (0.176- or 0.246-gill) measures (landlords can choose which one to serve). The ​14 gill was previously the most common measure in Scotland, and still remains as the standard measure in pubs in Ireland.

Half of a gill is a jack, so an eighth of a pint.[5] But in northern England, a quarter pint could also be called a jack or a noggin rather than a gill, and in some areas a half pint could be called a gill, particularly for beer and milk.[6][7][8]

In Ireland, the standard spirit measure was historically ​14 gill. In the Republic of Ireland, it still retains this value, though it is now legally specified in metric units as 35.5 ml.

In Scotland, there were additional sizes:[9]

  • big gill = 1.5 Imp. gill
  • wee gill = 3/4 Imp. gill
  • wee half gill = 3/8 Imp. gill
  • nip=1/4 Imp. gill

In popular culture[edit]

There are occasional references to a gill in popular culture, such as in:


  • In L. Frank Baum's The Patchwork Girl of Oz, one of the ingredients required for a magic spell is a gill of water from a dark well. In chapter 19, the obscure unit is used for humor including a pun with the nursery rhyme "Jack and Jill", which also involved a well.
  • In George Orwell's Animal Farm, Moses the Raven is allotted a gill of beer a day after he returns, with the implication that this is part of his payment for supporting the farm leaders, the pigs.
  • Dan Simmons' novel, The Terror (2007), makes frequent references to gills of grog and rum.


  • The cumulative song "The Barley Mow".[10]
  • In The Doors song "The Crystal Ship", the line, "the crystal ship is being filled a thousand girls," some people report that "girls" should be "gills".


  • A gill is also referenced in “Archer” season 2, episode 3 ("Blood Test") when Barry explains to Archer that a liter is, "about 8 gills".
  • In "Bart the Genius," an episode of "The Simpsons," a child tricks Bart by offering, "I'll trade you 1,000 picoliters of my milk for four gills of yours." (A picoliter is a trillionth of a liter, so Bart is losing almost a pint of milk in this exchange.)


Because of its more widely used homograph, gill is often mispronounced with a hard 'g' sound.[citation needed]

  • FX's animated cartoon Archer, mispronounced gill in the episodes "Blood Test" (Season 2, Episode 3)[11] and "Heart of Archness: Part Three" (Season 3, Episode 3).[12]
  • Television host Stephen Fry mispronounced gill in a 2013 edition of the BBC TV programme QI.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Not /ˈɡɪl/ (About this sound listen) as in a fish's gill
  2. ^ This was the legal definition although in some areas a gill of milk or beer is referred to as a half-pint; elsewhere a gill was the ​13 pint of milk given free to school children.[citation needed]
  3. ^ after 1985 in the UK, c. 1964 in Canada
  4. ^ after 1964 redefinition of litre and 1959 redefinition of inch
  5. ^ Klein, Herbert Arthur (1974). The Science of Measurement: A Historical Survey. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. p. 34. ISBN 0-486-25839-4. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  6. ^ Griffiths, Samuel (1873). Griffiths' Guide to the Iron Trade of Great Britain. p. 292. 
  7. ^ O'Gorman, Daniel (1853). Intuitive calculations; the readiest and most concise methods. Manchester. p. 50. 
  8. ^ International Dictionary of Food and Cooking by Charles Gordon Sinclair, ISBN 1-57958-057-2, published by Taylor & Francis, 1998
  9. ^ "The Scottish Licensing Laws". Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  10. ^ "Good Luck to the Barley Mow, lyrics and audio". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  11. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd. "Archer: "Blood Test"". 
  12. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd. "Archer: "Heart Of Archness, Part Three"".