List of obsolete units of measurement

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This is a list of obsolete units of measurement, organized by type. These units of measurement are typically no longer used, though some may be in limited use in various regions. For units of measurement that are unusual but not necessarily obsolete, see List of unusual units of measurement. For units of measurement that are humorous in nature, see List of humorous units of measurement.


An overview of farm-derived units of measurement. Several of these are obsolete: the oxgang, the virgate, and the carucate.

Energy, etc.[edit]


  • Ald
  • Alen
  • Aṅgula
  • Arabic mile
  • Arş and Arşın – two Turkish units of length
  • Bamboo – also known as the Burmese league
  • Barleycorn – one-third of an inch.
  • Button – a unit of length which has been used in the UK. It is defined as 112 in (2.1 mm).[3]: 29 
  • Cana – a unit of length used in the former Crown of Aragon, at least in Catalonia. It is around the same value as the vara of Aragon, Spain, and Portugal.[4]
  • Cubit[5]
  • Ell
  • Girah
  • Guz
  • Hat'h
  • Jow
  • Lachter – a unit of length once used in the mining industry in most of Europe. It was usually used to measure depth, tunnel driving and the size of mining fields; it was also used for contract work. In mining in the German-speaking countries, it was the primary unit of length.
  • Ligne – a French unit of length, roughly equal to 2.25 mm (0.089 in), or 9 points
  • Line
  • Macedonian cubit
  • Pace
  • Palm
  • Parasang
  • Pes
  • Pyramid inch – a unit of length, believed to be equal to 125 of the cubit
  • Rod
  • Sana lamjel
  • Spat – a unit of length equal to 1,000,000,000 km (620,000,000 mi)
  • Stadion
  • Step
  • Unglie
  • Vara – an Aragonese, Spanish, and Portuguese unit[4]
  • Yojana – a Vedic measure of distance used in ancient India. Its value was about 10 km (6.2 mi), although the exact value is disputed among scholars (between 8 and 13 km or 5 and 8 mi)


A Hefner lamp (German: Hefnerkerze)

Mass or weight[edit]


Volume (dry or liquid)[edit]

Glass milk bottles from 1950s Quebec. From largest to smallest, they are a pinte (quart), a chopine (pint), and a demiard (half-pint).[11] The latter was used for cream.


  • Apothecaries' system
  • Atom (time) – a hypothetical unit of time used in the Middle Ages
  • Bahar – a unit of length in Iran, and was a unit of mass in Oman
  • Batman – mostly a unit of mass, but sometimes a unit of area
  • Demal – unit of concentration
  • Dimi (metric prefix) – a discontinued non-SI metric prefix for 10−4[3]
  • Fanega – a unit of dry volume, and a unit of area
  • Fresnel – a unit of frequency
  • Garce – a unit of dry volume in India, and a unit of mass in Sri Lanka
  • Hobbit – a unit of volume, or, more rarely, of weight
  • Kula – a unit of area in India, and mass in Morocco
  • Last – a unit of mass or volume
  • League – usually a unit of length, but sometimes a unit of area
  • Mache
  • Mesures usuelles
  • Perch – most commonly a unit of area, but sometimes a unit of length or volume
  • Pièze – a unit of pressure
  • Quibi – a unit of time equal to 10 minutes. First used in Quibi’s own Super Bowl LIII advertising campaign, this word saw small amounts of ironic adoption.
  • Rood – a unit of area or length
  • Sack – originally a medieval unit of mass, equal to 26 stone (364 pounds, or about 165 kg). Since a unit of dry volume, equal to 24 imperial gallons (about 109 liters).
  • Schoenus – a unit of area or length
  • Scrupulum – a unit of area, mass, or time
  • Seam – a unit of mass or volume
  • Seer – a unit of mass or volume
  • Toise – a unit of area, length, or volume
  • Tub – usually a unit of mass, but sometimes a unit of volume
  • Uncia – an ancient Roman unit of length, mass, or volume
  • Wey – a unit of mass or volume
  • Winchester measure – a system of volume measurement

See also[edit]

By geography[edit]


  1. ^ a b Herlihy, David (2009). Medieval Households. Harvard University Press. p. 69. ISBN 9780674038608.
  2. ^ Lessa or Lecha Unit Converter
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Cardarelli, François (2003). Encyclopaedia of Scientific Units, Weights and Measures. Their SI Equivalences and Origins. London: Springer. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-4471-1122-1.
  4. ^ a b Gilbert, E.W.; Beckinsale, R.P. (1944). Spain & Portugal: Spain. Its Geographical handbook series. Naval Intelligence Division.
  5. ^ Hoong, Tho Lai; Yi, Tho Mun (2008). Interactive Science For Inquiring Minds Volume A. Panpac Education Pte Ltd. p. 33. ISBN 978-9812716187.
  6. ^ Kisch, Bruno (1965). Scales and Weights. Original from the University of California: Yale University Press. p. 237.
  7. ^ William Parry, Louis Albert Fischer,State and National Laws Concerning the Weights and Measures of the United StatesUnited States National Bureau of Standards, 1912 p. 414
  8. ^ Published anonymously as "Scala graduum Caloris. Calorum Descriptiones & signa." in Philosophical Transactions. 1701. pp. 824–829.
  9. ^ Nichols, Joannes, ed. (1782). Isaaci Newtoni Opera quae exstant omnia. Vol. 4. pp. 403–407.
  10. ^ Silverman, Mark P. (2002), A Universe of Atoms, Springer, p. 49, ISBN 9780387954370
  11. ^ Trudel, Marcel, Introduction to New France, p. 222
  12. ^ lists figures for bottles in Bolivia from 460 ml to 1 liter.
  13. ^ McCusker, John (2005). Essays in the Economic History of the Atlantic World. Routledge. p. 63. ISBN 1134703406.
  14. ^ a b c Pelton, Robert W.; Pelton, W. Pelton (2004). Baking Recipes of Our Founding Fathers. Infinity Publishing. pp. 263–264. ISBN 0741419440.

Further reading[edit]

  • Encyclopaedia of Historical Metrology, Weights, and Measures; Jan Gyllenbok; Birkhäuser; 2018; 3 Volumes.
  • Historical Metrology: A New Analysis of the Archaeological and the Historical Evidence Relating to Weights and Measures; Algernon Berriman; Praeger; 1970; ISBN 978-0837124247.