Talk:Imperial units

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Mass vs. Weight[edit]

The difference between weight and mass is significant: In SI units, mass is kg, but weight is mass times acceleration (kg*m*s^-2), e.g., (3kg)*(9.81m*s^2) I was trying to figure out which is which for imperial units, but the heading says "Measures of weight and mass", and I am arguing that this should not be stated unless some disambiguation is made on the matter. Most people say "I weigh 180 pounds", but what they mean is "My mass can be approximated as 180 pounds." For example, suppose someone went to the moon: Their mass would not change, but their weight would. A pound is a measure of mass, even though it is commonly called weight. Imperial units of weight are: lb*ft*s^2 I am not sure how to edit the appropriate section, so I will leave it to someone else more wiki-talented. (Source: Sophomore Mechanical Engineer student)

If you can find a way to write "measures that are commonly referred to as weight, but are officially defined as units of mass" in such a way as to fit in the space that a normal amount of title text would occupy, I would be keenly interested. Most sensible solution would just be to remove the word "weight" from the title there. "lb*ft*s^2" isn't really a unit; it's a formula which contains several different units. The imperial system doesn't, strictly speaking, have a unit of weight (unless you count poundals, pounds-force, slugs, or whatever (not sure of the definitions of those), but none of those are, strictly speaking, imperial units). Rhialto (talk) 17:30, 21 February 2009 (UTC)
The pound is a force. This is the reason the pressure in your tires is measured in pounds per square inch (think about it). The only reason people are often confused by this is because we intuitively think of mass in terms of the force that is felt as a result of the Earth's gravitational field pulling on the object. Just because something is confusing, or would require some explanation, is not an excuse to present false information as though it were correct. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:41, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
No, the pound is a unit of mass. There is a unit "pound force" (and also poundal etc as mentioned above). You seem to be confusing the definition with the usual ways of measuring the unit. Dbfirs 08:53, 20 February 2011 (UTC)

Force = Mass • Gravitational Accelleration. In Imperial units this is Pounds = Slugs[1] • g (32 ft./s^2). In SI it is Newtons = kilograms • g (9.8 m/s^2). So why isn't the page corrected for this? Jpellant (talk) 14:52, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

What correction did you have in mind? Slugs were a joke unit of mass when I was at school (perfectly valid, just not used in practice). Dbfirs 19:50, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
Since 1959 the avoirdupois pound has legally been defined as 0.45359237 kilograms in various countries around the World (the UK, Canada, NZ, Australia, the US, etc.).[1] It's a unit of mass.
Jpellant, thanks for the link you've given us.[2] Do read it though. It actually contradicts what you're saying. This page says (correctly) that the slug, a unit of mass, is equal to 32.17 pounds.
Also look at the definition of the pound from the same site where it's clearly defined as a unit of mass.[3] Jimp 13:54, 3 July 2015 (UTC)


shouldn't the redirect go the other way round, to the singular term, so articles can write "The Inch is an Imperial Unit..." ? -- Tarquin 06:30 Jul 29, 2002 (PDT)

Yes, it should. Jeronimo 06:39 Jul 29, 2002 (PDT)

ok, I'll do the move by hand in a while -- give admins time to spot it in case they want to use their magic powers. -- Tarquin 06:57 Jul 29, 2002 (PDT)

Nautical Mile[edit]

Shouldn't the nautical mile be 6,076.1155 feet, or 6080 with rounding. In the article someone wrote 5080 which sounds wrong. Last time I edited an article they reversed the change because someone said I was wrong. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:08, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Rounded or not, it should be 6080 feet. I made a dumb typo earlier, that's all. Rhialto (talk) 11:44, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

The nautical mile is legally defined everywhere as 1852 m. 6080 feet equals 1853.184 m, a difference of 1.184 m, which is a significant amount. If two ships were to start at the same point and travel 1000 nautical miles parallel to each other and one had instruments based on 1852 m and the other based on 1853.184 m, they would end up 1.184 km apart. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:19, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

During the era of the British Empire, the Nautical Mile was defined as 6080 feet. This was the length used until metrification spread more widely. Then, in 1970, the international definition of the Nautical mile was changed to 1852 metres. Therefore, all ships would now be using the latter measurement for the nautical mile. (DaveNed88 (talk) 03:19, 30 March 2010 (UTC))

The English and US nautical miles are based on a sphere equal in area to the Clarke Ellipsoid, which gives 6080.256 (US), or rounded to 6080 feet (UK). The metric nautical mile is based on the 45deg lattitude, rounded to 1852 metres. --Wendy.krieger (talk) 06:24, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Not entirely true Wendy. See the Wikipedia article on nautical mile;

″The Imperial and U.S. definitions of the nautical mile were based on the Clarke (1866) Spheroid: they were different approximations to the length of one minute of arc along a great circle of a sphere having the same surface area as the Clarke Spheroid.[3] The United States nautical mile was defined as 1,853.248 metres[4] (6,080.20 U.S. feet, based on the definition of the foot in the Mendenhall Order of 1893): it was abandoned in favour of the international nautical mile in 1954.[5] The Imperial (UK) nautical mile, also known as the Admiralty mile, was defined in terms of the knot, such that one nautical mile was exactly 6,080 international feet (1,853.184 m):[6] it was abandoned in 1970[6] and, for legal purposes, old references to the obsolete unit are now converted to 1,853 metres exactly.[7]″

Note the key fact you omitted. The US adopted the International nautical mile of 1852 m in 1954, some 60 years ago. The UK changed in 1970, some 44 years ago. The old definitions were abandoned and are legally obsolete. So, no Wendy, the US and English nautical miles are not based on but were based on the old definitions. Just because it once was doesn't mean it still is. Ametrica (talk) 07:46, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

The worst part is that on the graph "English units of Length" there're both 6000 and 6080 feet per nautical mile. Could somebody fix that, please? (talk) 14:02, 14 November 2014 (UTC)

Which Empire?[edit]

Which empire does the Imperial system refer to? The Roman Empire or the British Empire? -- Ricardo 14:03 19 October 2008 UTC

The British Empire. This is sufficiently common knowledge that no particular disambiguation is required. Rhialto (talk) 13:26, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. The fact that someone has asked means that it is not common knowledge, and as Wikipedia's reason for being is to impart knowledge then a mention would be good. I'm not sure where to put it, though: many articles like this have an "Name" or "Etymology" section, but this one doesn't. Bazza (talk) 13:53, 24 November 2008 (UTC) says:
"Generally, article naming should prefer what the greatest number of English speakers would most easily recognize, with a reasonable minimum of ambiguity, while at the same time making linking to those articles easy and second nature.
This is justified by the following principle:
The names of Wikipedia articles should be optimized for readers over editors, and for a general audience over specialists.
Wikipedia determines the recognizability of a name by seeing what verifiable reliable sources in English call the subject."
The phrase "imperial units" in 99% of English language reference materials, refers to the set of units described in the article as written, not to Roman, Chinese, Russian, or any other empire's units. The current article name conforms perfectly to WP's manual of style for article names.
I replaced the awkward wording "the [[United Kingdom]] and its colonies, including [[Commonwealth of Nations|Commonwealth]] countries" by "the [[British Empire]]", which hopefully solves this issue. As I'm not a historian, and since I know that the British are peculiar with their historic national terminology, I am aware that this may not be the same thing, but I really hope it's close enough for the context of this article. — Sebastian 20:37, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
In scholarly writing, imperial units are frequently referred to as BI or British Imperial. However, this is mainly for the benefit of scholars from non-English-speaking countries. In the English-speaking world, imperial is presently understood to refer to the British Empire. However, since the British Empire was (as far as I can recall) officially dissolved in 1971 (although unofficially it's still there), there may soon come a time when the younger generation will ask, "Empire? What empire?" Zyxwv99 (talk) 17:17, 23 November 2011 (UTC)


burma/myanmar is not part of the Commonwealth its under military control burma was part of the commonwealth but myanmar is the name of burma since the military coupe —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:39, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

This situation is common to many other countries which formerly used Imperial units. Some people might feel that "British empire" (which I wrote per my previous message), is politically misleading. If that is indeed a concern, then I propose to move that whole sentence "As of 2008, all countries that used the Imperial system ... " to the Current use of imperial units section, where it is more needed than in the header section. The remark about Burma then could be moved to the "other countries" section. — Sebastian 20:55, 26 November 2008 (UTC)


Should Imperial not be capitalised? It does refer specifically to the British Empire. I've looked through the first few hits from Google for "imperial units" (which ignores case) and while it is far from unanimous the balance seems to be in favour of capitalisation which also strikes me as grammatically correct. CrispMuncher (talk) 22:33, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

No it should not be capitalised. JIMp talk·cont 23:14, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Pre/post 1959 Imperial and US customary units[edit]

I am slightly confused whether current units are Imperial or not/US customary or not, in 1959 it appears Imperial units and US customary units were standardised and assigned a metric equivalent. This means that an Inch, for example, before 1959 (both Imperial and US customary) is different to an 'international' Inch post 1959. The way I understand it is that there is two different lengths of an Imperial inch, one pre 1959 and one post 1959 and the same in US customary units, but no way to identify between pre 1959 and post 1959 inches. A pre 1959 Imperial inch was not of equal length to a pre 1959 US customary inch, yet they are now the same length. I understand we are only talking tiny changes here, but I am more interested in whether there is any linguistic/notational difference between pre/post 1959 units or whether the change was considered so small that it would just be ignored. (BigTurnip (talk) 06:01, 8 December 2009 (UTC))

This kind of thing happens all the time in metrology; the metre has changed definition twice since 1959. Generally these changes are not changes in the value of a unit in any meaningful sense; rather they are more precise definitions - i.e. any change that occurs is generally (by design) less than the uncertainty in the best measurements of the day so there generally is no real reason to distinguish. (talk) 23:00, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that's exactly the case with the Imperial inch, but the US survey inch retained a very slightly different definition which makes a marginal difference for long-range distances. (I think the same thing happened with a survey of India, but this has possibly all been converted to metric by now?) The metre is still essentially that defined by the seconds pendulum and the fraction of a (miscalculated) meridian. Each re-definition retains the previous length but enables it to be reproduced with greater accuracy. Dbfirs 23:14, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
The Imperial System was established by the "Imperial Weights and Measures Act, 1824", and applies to all countries that have their legal weights and measures so affected: ie the British Empire. The comparison of the standard compared with the metre gives lesser inches to the metre as time goes by (Kater 39.37079, Clarke 39.370432, Benoit 39.3701132, Sears 39.3701472). The US foot was defined in terms of the metre as 1 metre = 39.370000. The implementation of the international inch (25.4 mm, giving 39.370078), by agreement in 1959, implemented in Australia by the Weights and Measures regulations of 1961.
Regarding the 'servey foot', one finds that the process of transferring the base ellipsoid onto the national grid, and then extending the grid to cadastral measures, would cause most of the cadastral maps to be wrong on every instance, since more than six figures are significant. We have then the australian, southafrica using the clarke foot, 39.370432, India uses a foot of 39.370142, gold coast (africa), 39.370116, USA 39.370000. It's just that the USA define theirs in an act that everyone talks of it. Digging around geodesy sites or geodesic ellipsoids will unearth all of these. The 1984 ellipsoid, on which the GPS is based, is a metric ellipsoid. Bessel's toise (72/36.94133332989, which ultimately defined the first metre), and the German legal metre (1.000 013 597) are still in use.
Likewise, one should note that cadastral units are displaced units that continue to exist on cadastral maps, for much the same reason as servey units. These are typically rounded rather sharply, since they are at the very end of the digits only. eg South Africa: rhenish foot = 1.033 BI ft, 12 ft = rood, 600 sq roods = morgan; Canada, (old french), foot = 12.789 BI inches, toise = 6 ft, chain = 18 ft, arpent = 180 ft, or square of that size; USA, vara 33 in TX, 33 1/3 CA, 5000 = league, 10,000 sq = labor; Channel Islands, perch = 21 ft (Gernsey), 22 (Jersey), verge = 40 perches.

Wendy.krieger (talk) 12:05, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

current use[edit]

Strangely this article doesn't list the countries that currently use imperial units by law.
I believe that it is only the U.S.A. and either Lybia or Liberia or both.
I came to this article to find out which.

One would think the section below would include the U.S.A. or it should be renamed to;
"Current mixed use of imperial units" or "Continuing use of Imperial in officially Metric countries"

3 Current use of imperial units 
3.1 United Kingdom 
3.2 Canada 
3.3 Australia 
3.4 Republic of Ireland 
3.5 Other countries (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 17:59, 3 August 2010 (UTC).

The US system is different, e.g. six US pints are roughly five imperial ones. I'm not sure about Liberia and Burma; I'd like to see some decent refs. JIMp talk·cont 08:10, 21 September 2010 (UTC)
The US units are actually US customary units, but most are identical (except pints, gallons and tons). The UK still uses Imperial units by law, but only in certain specific measurements (e.g pint of milk or beer; road mile etc.) Dbfirs 19:35, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

Imperial units drivers license[edit]

...other provinces like Saskatchewan use imperial units.Driver’s Licences: Photo ID. The sample on the curent website shows that in the case of Saskatchewan this is no longer true. Peter Horn User talk 00:21, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

Then Be Bold and take it out instead of leaving tracks. I couldn't find NS or NB license pictures, but PEI use cm for height; if anyone still has lbs and inches on their license, list it. --Wtshymanski (talk) 02:01, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

Inaccurate reporting[edit]

The newspaper articles referred to were very vague about "EU rules". The newspapers were in fact reporting on posturing by politicians before the publication of consultation prior to the review of EU directive 80/181/EEC, but the reporting was wildly inaccurate. It should be noted that Wikipedia advises newspaper stories should be treated with caution when cited as sources. The changes to the directive were published in early 2009 and came into effect on 1-Jan-2010.

Thanks for clarifying the issue. Dbfirs 07:00, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Quebec metrication[edit]

Are both of these assertions true?

"However unlike in the rest of Canada, metrication in the Francophone province of Quebec has been more implemented and metric measures are more consistently used in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada both officially and among the population."
"Still many English Canadians (unlike most French Canadians) use SI units to describe their weight and height..." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:56, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
They can't be, can they? I've changed the second claim to what I think was intended, but my only connection with Canada is a cousin there, so perhaps Canadians can check. Dbfirs 07:01, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
I am French Canadian and I can tell you that most French Canadians use the imperial system for their weight (and all other kind of weight) and height. Probably because it's much easier to use... I don't know how to correct the article so please correct it. Most people use the metric system for almost everything else (the older generations 45 yo + still adhere to the imperial system). Max Thunder 19 October 2011 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:42, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
I've removed the second distinction between English and French Canadians, pending some evidence of the confused claim. Is the first claim broadly true, that metrication has had a wider acceptance in Quebec? Dbfirs 08:10, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Coffee spoon?[edit]

I was pleased to see the table going up in multiples of two because I remember it from 50 years ago, but I was puzzled by the metric equivalents. A "teaspoon" of only 3.5516328125 ml sounds more like a coffee spoon, and all other sizes seem to be about 35% too small. I can't find details of metric equivalents in the reference cited, though this might be because Google isn't showing it. Do these unreasonably precise figures constitute original research by someone? They seem to be based on the American idea of a tablespoon which has little connection with the old British spoon used for serving and formerly called a tablespoon (with a volume of at least 20 ml as preserved in Australian usage). Dbfirs 19:34, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

I'm the guy who just put up the table of culinary measures. They would have little to do with the dimensions of any 20th century cutlery. They were, however, used in medicine, back in the days when when doctors prescribed, and people followed the recipe on the prescription order and made their own medicine. The table is from page 165 of Ronald Edward Zupko's British Weights and Measures, although I've checked other sources. The precision is due to the fact the imperial gallon is defined with a fairly high degree of precision. Of course nobody would use these units to measure that accurately, but it's like the definition of the US gallon as 231 cubic inches. That's an exact definition. 2.54 centimeters to an inch is also exact. A cubic inch is thus exactly 16.387064 cubic centimeters, a US gallon 3.785411784 liters, a half-pint 236.5882365 cubic centimeters. Zyxwv99 (talk) 21:30, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for reformatting the table. I like the improved version better. I was thinking of Victorian teaspoons, tablespoons and cups, which were considerably bigger than modern ones, but I see where you are getting the conversion from. May I adjust the note to remove the unreasonable claim to accuracy, since measurements at that time simply could not be made with anywhere near that precision, and the definition has been changed twice with slightly different values for the gallon. On a separate topic, I am always suspicious of interpretations of one country's measurements by an author in another country, though Zupko seems well-qualified. I'm slightly suspicious of the old tablespoon being only half a fluid ounce. Can we find any British source? Dbfirs 22:10, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I've taken out the metric equivalent for now. I need to do more research. Zyxwv99 (talk) 23:45, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I just looked in the 1842 Encyclopedia Britannica and can't find it, even though they have (apparently) the whole imperial system. So for now I've taken out the whole culinary measures section. Zyxwv99 (talk) 23:57, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons...
 — The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot (an American expatriate in England), 1917
—— Shakescene (talk) 05:16, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
I wonder if there are different interpretations of culinary units by different authors. I suspect that the writers of recipes never expected their approximate measurements to be interpreted with such precision. The size of a teacup has certainly varied considerably with the changing culture of tea drinking. Dbfirs 08:14, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Since then I've done more research on these measures. They were actually apothecary measures, mostly unofficial, but widely used by apothecaries. They also turned up in cookbooks. In the first half of the 19th century there was fad for measuring cooking ingredients with laboratory glassware to high precision. The teacupful, etc., was intended to be measured accurately to the nearest minim. If you were off by more than one minim, then you weren't a good housewife. Zyxwv99 (talk) 13:00, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

Canadian units[edit]

Canadian units appear to duplicate Imperial except for the addition of:

  1. French equivalent language
  2. US equivalent measures. — Robert Greer (talk) 21:14, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
Probably could be merged, with a redirect from Canadian units to Weights and Measures Act (R.S. 1985)]. --Wtshymanski (talk) 05:55, 29 December 2011 (UTC)
Then the French translations tables should be moved to the Weights and Measures Act (R.S. 1985)] article. There are also the acre-foot, board foot and cord (unit) as well as the short ton and the short hundred weight which are peculiar to both Canada and the U.S. So, let us keep well enough alone and keep the two seperate. Peter Horn User talk 01:26, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
Then there are also all those references to the different provincial ministries of education. What would become of those? Leave well enough alone. Peter Horn User talk 01:33, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
What do they have to do with the subject of the article? --Wtshymanski (talk) 04:48, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
Oh that. Could be handled with a 1-liner saying "Imperial units are still taught in Canadian elementary school education." and as many of those redundant references as are required to meet the needs of the citation bigots. Hardly needs a whole article. --Wtshymanski (talk) 05:00, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
Generally Agree. The English language portion of that article is essentially duplication of material. The French portion of that article is new material, but on the other hand, Wikipedia is not a dictionary, nor is it a phrasebook. Since the sole reason for that article to exist as it stands is to provide French translations, it has no proper reason to exist as currently written. Rhialto (talk) 18:35, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

International inch[edit]

The article says, Since 1959, the US and the British yard have been defined identically to be 0.9144 metres, to match the international yard. Until today, this had a CN tag attached. Today it was replaced with a reference to website that supports the text. The problem is, both the text and the website are incorrect.

In July of 1959 six countries signed a treaty agreeing to adopt the international inch. The countries were the UK, the four dominions (or former dominions) Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and finally, the USA. However, Canada had already adopted the international inch several years earlier. In the USA, the Bureau of Standards began the transition as soon as the ink on the treaty was dry, even though Congress didn't ratify it until January 1960. In the UK, the treaty was ratified by the Weights and Measures Act of 1963 (which didn't go into effect until 1964). I don't when Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa made the transition.

The inch article has the same problem. Zyxwv99 (talk) 21:17, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

Edit war breaking out over "Current Use"/"United Kingdom" section[edit]

Anonymous user "" changed the original text of the article that said "The metric system is in official use within the United Kingdom for most applications" to claim "[...]for some applications". I believe this is clearly wrong - the only official use of non-metric measures in the UK is the road signs. The only other uses of non-metric measures aren't "official use" in the normal sense of the phrase: they are for sales of draught beer and cider (must be in pints). Sales of precious metals *may* be in troy ounces, and sales of milk in glass bottles *may* be in pints, but again this isn't "official use" in my book.

Additionally, anonymous user "" changed the original text further down to remove the claim "but the use of kilogrammes is increasing" in the comment about the way people discuss body weights. Again I consider that wrong: it is obvious that certainly people who are actively monitoring their weight (going to the gym etc) are likely to refer to weights in kg. People who take part in sports with weight categories (Judo etc) likewise. People who are in and out of hospital or their doctors' surgeries likewise. The BBC report rugby players' weights in kg. Some of the BBC's radio presenters (usually notorious for doing everything in imperial measures) discuss their own weights in kg - Chris Evans did so just a few weeks back on Radio 2 I noticed.

On both of these edits I say the article had it right before anonymous user "" changed them. So I reverted him. He's just reverted it back and I'm going to leave it temporarily, hoping to get some feelings from here about what it *should* say. Comments please? Steve Hosgood (talk) 10:12, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

In Wikipedia any claims must be supported by sources. The interpretation of "most" is not explicitly stated in the BBC citation, but it is consistent with the following paragraphs in the United Kingdom section. (It would be better if there were a direct source for the statement at the end of that sentence.) The statement "but the use of kilogrammes is increasing" is supported by the Guardian article. So both statements should be restored. I will revert the changes. RockMagnetist (talk) 16:28, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Date format[edit]

As of now the most recent edit is that of Jim Wae's reversion to "orignl ymd" for access dates after eight months of the article's happily getting along with dmy for all dates. Jim cites WP:DATERET to justify the edit. He also cites MOS:DATEUNIFY, which, although permitting ymd for access dates, has the main aim of promoting consistency of date format. It's interesting that Jim comments "consistent date format for accessdate=s & archivedates=s ..." Prior to the edit, though, the access date were consistently of dmy format (consistent also with every other date in the article). So is this edit really giving us any consistency? I can't see how it could be said that it is. So really it's just retaining of the original format which is in question here. Well we have to dig a little to find this original format. To find ymd we have to go back to May last year before Ohconfucius' edit. Before this the article had a mess of dmy, mdy and ymd dates (for access dates and others). It seems to me that Ohconfucius did the right thing in cleaning that mess up. Should he, though, have made an exception for access dates? We have to dig deeper still. The first ever access date that article had was put there by MJCdetroit five years ago. The format was ymd. Thus Jim wins, right? Note, though, that the {{cite web}} template at the time required this format (anything else would have given a red link). So we're therefore retaining something that was forced in the first place. I don't see how we can fairly apply WP:DATERET under such circumstances. I propose a reversion to the consistent dmy we've had since May. JIMp talk·cont 09:07, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

dmy makes sense for the body text of this article (including footnotes), as it is explicitly about a UK topic. the MoS allows for ymd to be used in addition, but only for the purpose of sortable tables. Even then, non-displaying "sorting date text" preceding the displaying text would be better. It makes no sense and has no justification for ymd to be used in any existing part of this article. Rhialto (talk) 09:21, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
I should have commented: "Consistent accessdate=s & archivedate=s formats PER WP:DATERET & MOS:DATEUNIFY & WP:STRONGNAT". WP:STRONGNAT says "YYYY-MM-DD format may be used in references or in tables, even in articles with national ties, if otherwise acceptable." As the original format, YMD would seem to be entirely acceptable.--JimWae (talk) 00:36, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, MOSNUM accepts ymd in refs but my point is that the dates were already consistent before your edit (and had been for months). I'm also questioning the validity of calling ymd the "original" format when it had been forced. Jimp 03:01, 30 June 2013 (UTC)


The Oxford English Dictionary defines quarter as all of the following -- eight bushels of grain, nine bushels of coal, one fourth of a peck, one fourth of a pound, one fourth of a hundredweight, one fourth of a dram, one fourth of an ell, one fourth of a yard, and one fourth of a fathom. The symbol is qr not qtr. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2604:2000:CFC0:1:4592:2E8:DF3D:6D46 (talk) 18:07, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

Units outside the Imperial system[edit]

I mean English/Scottish units: I am looking at ell, which the SOED says has English and Scottish (different) definitions. Can I assume that the table of imperial units is complete? I.e. that because ell does not appear in it, I can assume it was not an imperial unit? This is a question about the subject, but would be resolved by an edit which marked the tables as complete (if they are, of course), and perhaps a note about the most common units excluded from the imperial system. Imaginatorium (talk) 05:53, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Inconsistency in table[edit]

There is an error in this table:

English length units graph.png

There are two paths from foot to nautical mile, producing different results. The error is the conversation from yard to fathom, having a factor of 2.0something instead of 2. --Feudiable (talk) 20:51, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

That's not where the error lies. An Imperial cable is not 100 fathoms but 608 feet (about 101 fathoms). Can someone correct the diagram? Dbfirs 22:30, 15 October 2015 (UTC)
Isn't the problem due to there being two different definitions of the fathom (6 ft vs 11000 of an Admiralty nautical mile)? Perhaps we should have two fathoms in the diagram. Jimp 02:20, 16 October 2015 (UTC)
Well, yes, this is how the problem arose, but the old Admiralty fathom has not been used for a long time and is best forgotten except in a footnote. Dbfirs 08:15, 16 October 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps we should delete the nautical mile altogether then. Jimp 04:04, 17 October 2015 (UTC)
Excuse me jumping in, having made no contribution, but surely the best way to remove the inconsistency in the diagram is not to delete nautic[al](misspelling in figure) mile, but to replace the line from fathom to cable by a dashed line marked "~100" with a footnote. I just edited the table wording, and I suggest the conversion factor in the table should be similarly changed. Imaginatorium (talk) 06:29, 17 October 2015 (UTC) ... sorry, didn't mean to be that bold Imaginatorium (talk) 13:14, 17 October 2015 (UTC)
I agree. That seems to be the best compromise. Anyone good at editing diagrams, or should we contact the originator? Dbfirs 08:22, 17 October 2015 (UTC)

Plural of stone[edit]

A couple of edits today have disputed the plural of "stone". In different ways, both are correct. When giving a weight, the plural is stone, e.g. 2 stone 3 pounds. But when discussing the unit of measurement, the plural is stones, e.g. "14(1) Weighing equipment (including weights) which weighs wholly or partly in grains, stones, quarters, hundredweights or tons may continue to be used for trade if...."[4] or "The letter may show the height and weight in both metric (i.e. centimetres and kilograms) and imperial (feet and inches and stones and pounds) units."[5] NebY (talk) 17:14, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

That's not what wikt:stone (4) says. Your second reference doesn't mention "stone(s)" at all. Bazza (talk) 23:22, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
A brief dictionary entry doesn't cover every nuance of the English language - just try figuring out from online dictionaries alone whether to use "licence" or "license" as a verb when writing British English! I do notice that if I expand item 4 in that entry in Wiktionary (itself not a WP:RS, of course), I see two supporting quotations, the second of which ends "and the sack of thirteen stones." I don't understand why you say my second reference doesn't mention stone(s) at all; check the the third sentence of the first paragraph under the subheading "The National Child Measurement Programme". NebY (talk) 23:52, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

The plural of "stone" is "stones" (obviously), just as the plural of "foot" is "feet". But when you give your height in feet and inches, you say "I'm five foot ten", using the singular "foot". (Just as a ruler three feet long is called a "three-foot ruler".) And a weight in stones and pounds is given (well, actually, this is hearsay: I was born in England in 1948 and do not believe I have ever given my weight in stones) as "14 stone 10" or whatever. So my edit was correct: "stone" is not the plural of "stone". I just corrected the wiktionary entry, which was contradicted by the very quote cited. Imaginatorium (talk) 04:32, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

Your edit to Wiktionary has been reverted (not by me). How could you live in England and not give your weight in stones? If you never mentioned stones, then I'm sure that other people will have mentioned your weight in stones. The OED states that the collective plural is usually stone. Dbfirs 19:10, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Quite, and I like the specificity of "collective". Unfortunately, all this talk of dictionaries has reminded me of WP:NOTDICT and WP:NOTSTYLEGUIDE. I think it's time to spoil everyone's fun - including mine - and remove the statement Bazza 7 inserted and I extended, "The plural is stone when providing a weight (e.g. "a hundredweight weighs 8 stone").[30]". NebY (talk) 19:34, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
We certainly shouldn't be prescriptive over the plural, and @Imaginatorium: is correct that stones is the usual plural except in specific contexts. I've edited the article to give less prominence to the disputed plural. Dbfirs 20:12, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Good. This is how Wikipedia is meant to work. We've identified that a basic statement was more nuanced than it first appeared, and have added some agreed information to help other readers. Bazza (talk) 19:33, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

Screw threads[edit]

In the section on "Current use of some imperial units" there is a sentence: "Non-metric nuts and bolts etc., are available, but usually only from specialist suppliers." I think this is a misunderstanding: screw threads are variously defined using different units, but the screw or nut you buy has to fit the mating part for which you are buying it. Various standard threads, like the screw on a camera tripod and the threaded socket on the camera (at least last time I looked; I live in Japan) are an (American) UNC thread, and these are likely to be around for a very long time, and not just from "specialist suppliers". I suggest deleting this sentence, but if anyone has any conflicting evidence, well, go ahead... Imaginatorium (talk) 14:19, 3 January 2016 (UTC)

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Abbreviations for imperial units[edit]

What is the standard abbreviation for the "imperial" (i.e. in the UK) mile? When I went to school in England (1950s and 60s) we had to do all sorts of mixed-based calculations, like dividing 6 miles 4 furlongs 6 chains by 7. But we had plenty of practice at writing the abbreviations, and I only ever knew one for "mile", which is "ml" (and "mls" when plural). At the time, road signs were either old signposts, or modern signs, but in all cases distances in miles were shown only by numbers. "Minchinhampton 3" and so on. Then two things happened: new-fangled motorway signs suddenly appeared with the symbol for "metre", just "m", to mean "miles", and at some point I discovered that the Americans abbreviate everything by the first two letters, when I saw a sign saying "Traverse City 12 mi". It is incredibly hard to find any evidence of anything other than the US abbreviation, particularly because of the "millilitre" confusion (someone tried to persuade me that "Services 15 mls" would be misunderstood as the volume of something), but here at last is a BBC document: units of measurement (sorry, it's actually a jumbled up quiz, but there is no "mi" anyway.

Actually I haven't lived in the UK for a long time, so can someone tell me: has the "mi" abbreviation started appearing everywhere? Is this (surely not!) a regional thing -- I grew up in Gloucestershire.

There are some other oddities. The metric system defines symbols (not "abbreviations") which are universally used; e.g. "kg" is the same, whether it's 'chilogrammo' or 「キログラム」. But the Imperial system does not, as far as I know. Some abbreviations are absolutely fixed, like "ft", "in", "cwt" etc, but what about things like "rod"; was this really universally agreed to be "rd" in the days when it was used? And is "slug" really the ?abbreviation for "slug"?? Feedback appreciated. Imaginatorium (talk) 18:30, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

I'm not convinced that every imperial unit had an abbreviation. Certainly, some did. But evidence that one did is not evidence that all did. Rhialto (talk) 22:08, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
template:convert uses "mi" but I tend to use abbr=off on first use, on the theory that these units are fairly obscure these days. Kendall-K1 (talk) 04:29, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
I agree that many abbreviations are after-the-fact opinions of little encyclopedic importance. Someone somewhere will have written "rd" for "rod", while others have probably written "r" or nothing at all (in a table of values). I think the abbreviations for imperial units should be wound back unless reliable sources can be found. Johnuniq (talk) 05:11, 19 August 2016 (UTC)

The only abbreviations I personally can confirm are in modern (i.e., post-1950) usage are:

Length: in., ft., yd., nm. (nautical mile) Square/Cubic: sq., cu. Weight/Mass: oz., lb., st., cwt. Volume: fl. oz., pt.

I've seen lists with others listed, but in lists of abbreviations; I haven't seen other abbreviations for these units used "in the wild". Rhialto (talk) 08:27, 19 August 2016 (UTC)

To answer one of the questions: I haven't seen "mi" anywhere in the UK. Bazza (talk) 11:24, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
Agreed. In some areas of the UK one still sees just "m" for miles ( and no-one confuses it with these new-fangled metre things), but the unit is usually implicit and I can't recall seeing "mi" anywhere. Dbfirs 14:36, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
Yes, as I said above, all old-fashioned signs and signposts were just numbers, then motorways use "m". Have you seen "m" anywhere off a motorway? And did you have to do arithmetic with distances involving miles, furlongs, etc, and how did you write (abbreviate) "mile"? Imaginatorium (talk) 15:32, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
Still predominantly just numbers round here. I'll look out for anything else. I did do arithmetic with miles, furlongs etc but I don't remember using any abbreviations. The Yorkshire Dales National Park uses the abbreviation "ml" on their footpath signs. The Lake District and North Yorkshire Moors parks seem to prefer the full "miles" or occasionally just "m". Dbfirs 18:00, 20 August 2016 (UTC)

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