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List of human-based units of measurement

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Lichas - thumb length

This is a list of units of measurement based on human body parts or the attributes and abilities of humans (anthropometric units). It does not include derived units further unless they are also themselves human-based. These units are thus considered to be human scale and anthropocentric. A cross-cultural review of body-based measurement systems has found such units to be ubiquitous worldwide.[1]


  • Morgen - the area that one man could plow from morning to noon
  • Quinaria - the cross-sectional area of a pipe created from a flat sheet of lead 5 digits wide
  • Stremma - the amount of land a person can plow in a day


  • Ald - the distance between a man's outstretched arms
  • Assbā - Arabic finger
  • Condylos - middle joint of finger
  • Cun - width of the human thumb, at the knuckle
  • Dactylos - Ancient Greek finger breadth
  • Digit - length of a human finger
  • Etzba - fingerbreadth
  • Fathom - the distance between the fingertips of a human's outstretched arms
  • Finger
  • Fistmele - the measure of a clenched hand with the thumb extended
  • Gradus - Ancient Roman step
  • Hand - breadth of a human hand
  • Klafter - German measure of outstretched hands
  • League - the distance a person can walk in an hour (by one definition)
  • Orgyia - Ancient Greek fathom
  • Parasang - the distance an infantryman could march in a predefined period of time
  • Pygmē - distance from elbow to base of fingers
  • Sazhen - Russian fathom
  • Shaftment - width of the fist and outstretched thumb
  • Span - width of a human hand, from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger
  • Spithamē - Ancient Greek span
  • Zeret - Biblical span


  • Haploun bēma - Ancient Greek single pace
  • Orgye - Arabic pace
  • Pace - a full stride, from heel to heel
  • Passus - the pace step of a single legionary





  • Duym - Tatar thumb/inch
  • Inch - width of the thumb (by some definitions)
  • Uncia - Roman inch
  • Zoll - German inch




  • Picul - the weight a person can carry


  • Nimesha - the time it takes for a person to blink
  • Paramanu - interval of blinking in humans



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kaaronen, Roope; Manninen, Mikael; Eronen, Jussi (2023). "Body-based units of measure in cultural evolution". Science. 380 (6648): 948–954. doi:10.1126/science.adf1936. Retrieved 13 June 2023.